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Hobby Lobby's Honey Bee II Micro Heli RTF Review

Heli rookie Mike Baker explores this extremely complete and pre-built RTF (ready to fly with radio preinstalled) micro helicopter, and finds it a superb fit for a beginner pilot. Micro Heli Pilot John Holtzinger also provides his input on this great first heli!

Splash

Introduction


Rotorspan:510mm
Length:520mm
Weight:290 Grams
Servos:2 E-Sky Sub Micro
Transmitter:E-Sky 4 Channel FM PPM
Receiver:E-Sky Combo controller W/Gyro
Battery:8.4V/650mah Ni-MH
Motor:370 brushed
ESC:Integrated in Combo Controller
Pitch:Fixed
Manufacturer:E-Sky
Available From:Hobby Lobby

I have often thought to myself, "One day I am going to get a helicopter and learn to fly it." Let's face it, if you have been living the addictive life of an R/C Pilot, you have most likely said the same words to yourself. But then all those things you've heard start coming into your mind...

Top 5 No-Longer-Valid Excuses not to buy a model helicopter...

  1. It's too hard to learn
  2. Helicopters are too expensive
  3. They are the hardest thing in the world to build and set up
  4. Parts are costly and too hard to get
  5. I will do nothing but crash it and it will end up in a closet collecting dust!

Well folks, those days and thoughts have ended with the introduction of the Honey Bee Mark 2 - a new offering from E-Sky sold by Hobby-Lobby. Like the multitudes of other Heli scardey-cats, I too hid my head in the sand, afraid of the ultimate in R/C fun and excitement. Well folks, I am now free and enlightened to the world of fun and challenges that these wonderful flying machines can give, and I owe it to the machine that Hobby-Lobby calls...



"The Best Micro Helicopter for learning to fly": The Honey Bee Mark 2.

Per Hobby Lobby, "The original Honey Bee was a great helicopter; Honey Bee Mark 2 builds on that heritage and adds many improvements that make flying a helicopter easier. Ready to fly within minutes of opening the box. Install 8 AA cells (not included) in the transmitter, charge the flight pack and you are ready to FLY. If you are a novice, leaving the flybar weights at the outer position will dampen the controls and make the helicopter more docile. As you improve, move the weights in for quicker response.

Key Features Include:

  • The tail boom is about 1-1/2" longer for more stable control.
  • The swashplate has a metal ball for reduced wear and more precise control
  • The servos are screwed to the frame for solid response.
  • Main rotor has a fiberglass plate that reduces blade coning and improves the helicopters forward flight characteristics.
  • Main and tail rotors are fixed pitch and controlled by individual motors.
  • The installed mixing board controls mixing of the main and tail rotors.
  • The board also contains 2 speed controls, a peizo gyro for tail stabilizing and a BEC circuit that supplies power to the receiver and servos.
  • A 7 cell 650 mAh NiMH battery and wall charger is included. Much longer flight times can be achieved with a 2 cell LiPoly battery (purchased separately).
  • A complete line of spare parts is available from Hobby Lobby".

Who Am I? My Name Is Mike Baker or in the R/C Groups you may know me as STOCKER, a pilot since the year 1974, and a true R/C Nut. It is my pleasure to introduce you, through this review, to The Honey Bee Mark 2.

Kit Contents

The Honey Bee arrived in a very well made box. The box was designed very smartly to carry your Honey Bee to your favorite place to fly without damage. The box is compact, is made of heavy gage glossy cardboard, and comes complete with carrying handle. Inside the box are form fitting top and bottom molded foam trays that tightly hold the 'copter and all components in safety.

"What's in the box?", you ask? Here is where I get to give my favorite answer of all time, EVERYTHING YOU NEED, save the 8-AA batteries for the transmitter!

Exactly what's in the box?

  • A completely built Honey Bee Mark 2 Fixed Pitch Micro Helicopter, no assembly required
  • A 4 channel FM Radio
  • 650mah Ni-MH Battery
  • 2 Hour Wall Charger
  • Accessory kit with zip ties, velcro, and allen-wrench for working on your new Honey Bee.
  • A Parts List Catalog, Flying Guide and Instruction Manual.

The Honey Bee arrived truly, completely ready to go. Everything is installed in the 'copter, including 2 Micro servos, the 4 in 1 mixing controller that serves as receiver, speed control for main and tail rotors, gyro, and servo channels. WOW! That tiny box does a lot of work.

Assembly

A micro heli is no place to decide to fly first and read the instructions second. Both the Flying Guide and The radio Guide have crucial information for adjusting the Honey bee For flight. I was very pleased with how thorough and well written they were. And also I needed something to do while my battery was charging for two hours.

Assembly steps:

  1. Install (not included) 8AA into the transmitter.
  2. Charge the supplied battery with the supplied charger. DO NOT LEAVE the battery on charge without supervision!

Be warned that you need to keep an eye on your pack while charging. The instruction book suggest about 2 hours or until the pack just begins to get warm.

The Component Shots...It Came All Pry!

With all building done by the manufacturer, I thought it would be interesting to provide some component pictures of all the things I did not have to put together.

Set Up For Flight

A Second Pilot's View

Hi! My name is John Holtzinger, aka Johnny B on RCGroups.

I had always viewed flying r/c helicopters as the ultimate r/c challenge, and being that I taught myself to fly airplanes and didn't know any r/c heli pilots, something that was out of my reach. Then I started checking around and found the Esky Honeybee FP helicopter package, the predecessor to the heli reviewed here. I thought, "Here's a little heli I might have half a chance at learning how to fly, on my own. I was right."

I own the "original" Honeybee FP RTF helicopter. What's the difference that justifies a review of a this ARF that's already been out for awhile and has been reviewed in the past? Well, the answer is, this is a new version available, the Honeybee Mark II from Hobby Lobby, and while many experienced heli pilots have seen similar designs before, I think its worth it for someone looking to getting into heli's to get an honest assessment of the improvements available with the new version.

I flew about 80 flights with my standard Honeybee before I got a head stiffener and the new ball-in swash and extended boom that make up the core of the changes with the Mark II. I've now accumulated over 100 flights on the heli, and feel I can comment well on the differences these improvements add. While the original heli flew well, these improvements are definitely worth having, and remember, I had to pay for them separately instead of having them included as they are in the new RTF package! The head stiffener helps keep the plastic rotor head from "coning up" in flight, something that improves fast forward flight. The ball-in swash improves the stability of the helicopter in hover and removes much of the rotor head slop of the original design. The helicopter just seems to be more precise and smoother in response to control inputs. The longer tail boom helps with tail authority, as the moment of the tail is increased. This is an important change with a small micro heli, where getting the tail to "hold" in flight and respond well to commands is probably the hardest item to achieve. In my opinion, this "improved" Honeybee flies better than other RTF incarnations of similar ships due to these included additions.

Other important points? This is a fixed pitch helicopter, which means that the pitch of the main rotors is just that, fixed, and increasing or decreasing throttle determines the amount of lift created by the main blades. Contrasted to Collective Pitch systems, this design is mechanically much simpler, and for a beginner, much easier to set-up and far more hardy. Many people point out the advantages to a CP helicopter, but there is a real place in the hobby for these FP micro machines, especially for new heli pilots. I have dinked, donked, and outright crashed the Honeybee numerous times in the learning process, and have so far purchased very few spare parts for over a hundred flights. I know the difference in repair costs would have been much different with a CP micro, something a beginner flying either on their own or with limited help should consider. Helicopters are a very challenging and rewarding form of r/c flight, and it is my opinion that starting with a RTF micro FP ship like the new Esky Honeybee Mark II can greatly increase a beginner's chances of success while minimizing the frustration and expense incurred with a more complicated machine.

Micro heli's do take time to learn, and a beginner, even someone with other forms of r/c experience, should look online for guides such as the EBHG or links to the Radd School of Flight and learn to crawl before walking, and walk before running. I first tried to take my heli out in a big field and fly it out of the box like an airplane. This resulted in the heli going back in its box for a couple of months while my wounded pride went back to hovering foamy 3d planes! But I swallowed my pride, started learning to scoot around on the floor, followed by short hops, then basic hovering, then all orientation hovering, progressing up to FFF (fast forward flight) and figure eights and the like.

This heli package should go down as one of the "best bangs for the buck" in r/c today. Twenty years ago, it would have been unheard of to have an RTF micro helicopter that actually flew available at this price. The new Mark II improvements are worthwhile upgrades to a proven design for an affordable, hardy, beginner-friendly way to get into the exciting world of micro electric r/c helicopters.

With the battery fully charged and mounted in the holder, it was time to go over some things before flight. First thing was to balance the Honey be by moving the battery to the correct position, and checking that the heli was level by balancing it on the fly bar.

One thing I have learned once, buying a bike that was prebuilt from a store and having things fall off it, was to check every connection, screw, nut and bolt. Having done this, and finding that the Honey Bee was built correctly at the factory, I declared that she was now ready to go.

NOTE: Checking key linkages and hookups is a step that needs to be done as with any flying craft before each flight, as hardware tends to loosen up and cause undesirable fly behavior.

Flying

Start up Steps:

  1. Make sure the throttle was in the full down position and also pull the trim tab to the full down position.
  2. Turn on the transmitter.
  3. Plug in the heli's flight battery.
  4. Wait for the transmitter/gyro/etc to self-calibrate.

Once I plugged in the battery, I needed to let the heli sit still for a few seconds while the controller calibrated itself. By looking at the controller, I could notice it blinking as it calibrated, and waited until the light was steady green, indicating it was ready to fly.

Trimming

Trimming out the Honey Bee was a fairly simple affair. I took the Honey Bee to th largest indoor area available for this writing (My shop). I sat the heli in front of me at the recommended distance of 6 feet and slowly added power until the heli was very light in the skids and soon noticed that it was traveling forward and to the right, with the tail booom trying to rotate counter clockwise. I shut the power and made the opposite trim corrections to the heli, then tried again. This time it was much better and allowed me to set the final adjustments as the heli floated around on the skids. It was really just that simple to get trimmed! I Just followed the directions and took my time in trimming and Viola! I was ready for what I was certain was going to be my most nerve wracking first flight ever...

Time to Fly

Feeling comfortable with the trim on the Honey Bee, it was finally time to take to the sky. Here is the part where my pulse started racing and I began to think Oh Boy, here we go! I placed the Honey Bee in front of me with the nose facing away and began to apply power. The Honey Bee seemed very skittish down close but I quickly found what others have been saying is true... just power up smooth and quick and get the heli out of the ground effect and it smooths out quite a bit.



I quickly found what others have been saying is true...just power up smooth and quick, and get the heli out of the ground effect, and it smooths out quite a bit.


After 5-6 short 3 foot hops I noticed my nerves calming a bit and began to get brave. As you can guess, I just had to get some altitude early and see how I could do. On the first high flight I got nerved and let the heli come back at me too fast, its a good thing these 41 year old legs can still move! I came down too far sideways and crashed (No damage?! WOW! It cant be?) The fact is there was not a scratch.

So, I settled down a bit and tried again. This time I got a nice smooth hover of about one minute, and slowly rotated the tail around and then dropped power for a smooth landing. The Honey bee had really impressed me now and my comfort level had gone way up.

We are talking only about 30 minutes total run time and I was already hovering. Amazing to say the least! The Honey Bee is just so smooth in the air and the power seems to apply to the machine very well when converting it to vertical flight.

I have since flown the Honey Bee in successful hovering flight about twenty times, and have begun my move towards forward flight. Here Are some pictures and a couple not so good videos of my my first flights. They are not too long but success was achieved and it was not as hard as I thought it would be.

Is This For a Beginner?

I am of the opinion that if there is a Micro Heli designed with the beginner in mind, The Honey Bee Mark 2 would have to be it. The kit is complete from the start, comes with great instructions and behaves very smoothly for such a small craft. Now, I am not saying it is as easy as flying a plane, but it is not as hard as most would make you think, at least not with the Honey Bee. So, I would say beginners, head to Hobby Lobby now.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The Honey Bee Mark 2 hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to beginners helicopters. The totally-ready-to-fly concept is a very big time saver, getting the new heli pilot into the air quickly, avoiding beginner mistakes, and our new pilot is ready to go with confidence in knowing that the heli is built right and ready to fly.

I found the Honey Bee to be as tough as a junk yard dog when it came to crashing and let me tell you this, there haven't been as many crashes as I was led to believe. The carbon fiber frame soaks up all but the most severe crashes and allows you to continue on your way. The heli has very good power under the NiMh 650Mah Battery and lifts off with good authority. Top that with full parts support from Hobby-Lobby and very inexpensive part costs and you have a sure winner. It is a treat for me to find a product that lives up to its claims in this day and age. The Honey Bee is one of those treats.

For the purpose of this review, I would recommend the Honey Bee Mark 2 for the beginning pilot, stock, without reserve. As for myself, I am going to continue to practice until I can make this baby sing, and then it might be time to move up to a collective unit. While I have no complaint in regards to my stock Honey Bee, I would say that, if I were buying myself a new one, I would go for the Li-Poly battery and charger for a bit of weight savings and longer flight times. We all want to fly longer, don't we?.

Discussion

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Old Nov 24, 2005, 05:48 PM
Registered User
Joined Mar 2004
2 Posts
Endurance review

The fuse on this glider is terrible.The area where tail is mounted is very crooked.The v tail must have been about 15 degrees off center.The motor was installed but not screwed together tight enough.I busted the prop trying to get a the screws.The fuse was too thigt for the radio equipment.
There are better made gliders out there...pass up on this one.

Phil
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Last edited by skyblue; Nov 24, 2005 at 05:51 PM. Reason: This reply belongs with the endurance review.
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Old Nov 25, 2005, 12:57 PM
Registered User
Joined Jul 2004
190 Posts
I think this helicopter perfect for beginner.. only weak landing skid must improve

flying performance show here....many VDOs

http://www.rcgroups.com/gallery/show...0&ppuser=35181
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 05:38 AM
Registered User
Reno Cannon, Nevada, United States
Joined Jul 2003
845 Posts
I bought this Heli as my first as well, due to this writeup, and the fact it's on sale from HL doesn't hurt either, lol. Anyway, my question for the Reviewer is this. Did you have any prior Heli Sim training?

I've been flying the hell out of a G2 Sim, on the Watt Not Heli, scaled to about the same size, and I've been improving daily. I was told to use a sim for quite a while before going to fire up the real one, from all the great people in the MicroHeli forum, and I've got to say, I think it's really going to help once I do go to the real one.

I haven't even opened up the box on the real one yet, just to resist the temptation.
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Old Feb 11, 2006, 07:27 PM
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Joined Feb 2006
13 Posts
This is my first post on this board as I just became a member. I'm looking for a hobby to keep me out of trouble as I am stuck in a wheelchair. Actually, I am stuck in a wheelchair (been about 6 yrs now), but have grown out of getting into trouble for the most part. Just want something to help me occupy my time. Thought of an RC Helicopter as a start and am wondering if any of you now believe that this one would be a good one to begin with and is worth the cost and so forth. Figured that you have more experience with this model now as you've had more time to play with it. Could you enlighten me please?

bob
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Old Apr 12, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Joined Apr 2006
1 Posts
I too am new to this site. I fly real airplanes and helicopters but this RC stuff is new. Dumb question: How does a fixed pitch helicopter go fwd,aft, L & R ? how are cyclic changes made?
Lance
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Old May 30, 2006, 11:42 AM
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JustPlaneChris's Avatar
Austin, TX
Joined Sep 2005
11,506 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by lancen
I too am new to this site. I fly real airplanes and helicopters but this RC stuff is new. Dumb question: How does a fixed pitch helicopter go fwd,aft, L & R ? how are cyclic changes made?
Lance
Not a dumb question! "Fixed pitch" in this case means there is no collective pitch. "Collective", as it were, is changed by increasing or decreasing the speed of the main rotor. Same for tail rotor control. This does make it somewhat more sluggish in response than a collective-pitch bird, but it does work. No acro though!

-Chris
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Old May 30, 2006, 04:04 PM
Registered User
Joined Aug 2005
84 Posts
I just bought one of these HoneyBee 2 Helis. $99 US on sale at Hobby Lobby! Couldnt resist for that price. I will definitely have to get Lipo later... but this is gonna be sweet.
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Old Jun 01, 2006, 09:18 AM
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Joined Jun 2006
1 Posts
hey, anyone know which one of the LI PO batteries and chargers...i will need from hobby tron or another location to use for this Honeybee?

It claims to only have 10 minutes of use, with the NIMH, but definately interested in the LIPO battery for longer run time. Any help would be great. Thanks.

Here is the link to the ones
http://www.hobby-lobby.com/lithium-polymer.htm
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 08:53 PM
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Joined Oct 2006
58 Posts
I was going to buy this heli as my first one but it seems like everyone keeps talking me out of it. Telling me to get the blade cx.... I just started on the sim and they are pretty hard to fly. What do u guys think
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Old Jan 03, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Joined Jan 2007
2,405 Posts
bharned, I'm very new to this but here's my 2 cents. The blade CX has counter rotating blades so although you can sort of learn on it, its totally different than a "real" helicopter with cyclic control. I just ordered the honey bee 2 and I'll let you know how it goes. I'm stepping up from a 2 Channel Syma Houghes 300. It was fun to fly, but very little control. Like flying a plane with no yoke, only throttle and rudder!
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 02:03 PM
Trex 450 V2, Spektrum.
airsoft1779's Avatar
USA, SC, Greenville
Joined Aug 2007
333 Posts
i have the honey bee except i have a problem the tail boom broke and i cant figure out how to replace it

does anyone no how to replace it
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Old Sep 22, 2007, 06:48 PM
I-16Mosca
Joined Sep 2007
47 Posts
Is the Mk 3 a more modern version of the MKII described here?

Anyone knows where can one buy this helicopter from the UK, and for how much?

Thanks

I-16Mosca
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Old Sep 28, 2007, 10:09 PM
Confirmed Chronic
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Pacific Palisades, CA
Joined Jul 2004
9,243 Posts
I got one of these last week and it's been an exercise in frustration. I have about 5 years of experience flying all kinds of fixed wing ships, and perfected the simulator (no crashes, inverted hover even) before getting the Honey Bee.

The balance on the chopper is off from the factory, even with the battery at the furthest forward position. Unfortunately it took me about a dozen attempts at getting the sucker to fly before I figured that out. With an ounce and half in the nose, it would finally hover well, but the added weight really seemed to bog down the motor. Finally, when I was unable to throttle up to get out of trouble, the chopper met terra firma and needs more new parts than I'm willing to invest in this thing.

My summary is that it's a neat toy, but coming from big glow planes and 3m gliders, it really seemed chintzy. I don't mind the plastic, but it was low quality at that and very brittle. I suppose it was a decent deal for $90, but honestly, I wasn't too impressed.

On the upside, parts are readily available, which is a good thing.
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Old Nov 04, 2007, 01:58 PM
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Joined Nov 2007
1 Posts
i just got this honey bee as a gift and i never flew before. i played the simulator and read the manual before taking the heli out. the heli is not leveled and when taking it off it tilts and crashes. i am not familiar with the terminology. what is the throttle and what is the trim? i have to put those down, but i am not sure they are down since i don't know what they are. i put the left joy stick down all the way and that stops all spinning, when i put it up it starts spinning. how can i get the heli to be perfectly leveled so when i take off it just hovers and doesn't tilt and crash? now i have to go buy some replacement parts and repair the damages before taking this out again
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