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Venom Racing's Venom Aircorps Brand Night Ranger 3D CP Micro-Helicopter RTF Review

Mike Cross has a great time exploring this collective pitch 3D micro helicopter, and finds it to be not only a great size and a great price, but with the optional plug-n-play brushless upgrade also a superb performer!

Splash

Introduction


Main Rotor Diam:750mm
Length:530 mm
Weight:390g
Servos:3 micro
Transmitter:6ch FM, incl.
Gyro:Integrated piezo, incl.
Battery:10.8v 9c 650mah NiMH, stock, incl.
Lipo 3S 12.6V 1500mAh, optional
Motor:brushed, stock, incl.
brushless, optional
ESC:integrated
Manufacturer/
Available From:
Various dealers or Venom Aircorps Online

The Night Ranger 3D is an interesting addition to the micro heli market -- a 400g micro heli, capable of indoor and no-wind outdoor flight; collective pitch; fully ready to fly package complete with a 6 channel FM transmitter, and a perfectly acceptable stock power setup. Also available is the hopped up brushless/lipo package, so that you can do like I did, start with the stock set up and upgrade to the brushless with ease.

As I looked through the instruction manual, I was more and more interested in the model. The manual is REALLY detailed and complete, with lots of great info for pilots of just about every skill level. It doesn't assume anything, and covers things clearly, from trimming to blade tracking, from switch settings to the hovering pitch and throttle dials. Even includes an exploded view diagram, parts list with part #s, and more! A company that's put together this nice of a manual, with this attention to detail, is likely going to provide the same level of attention and quality in the entire heli. Let's see!

Kit Contents

Includes:

  • 6Ch FM Radio w/3 Micro Servos
  • 4-in-1 Gyro, Mixer, Receiver & ESC
  • 9 Cell 10.8v 650 mah NiMH Rechargeable Battery
  • AC Wall Charger
  • (8) Venom Power AA Alkalines
  • wonderfully complete and detailed instruction and flight manual

Features:

  • Bell-Hiller Style CCPM Head Assembly
  • Alloy Headblock, Chassis, Tailboom & Skids
  • LiPO Battery Ready
  • 5-8 minute flight time, roughly, on stock power system
  • Easy Upgrade To Venom's Brushless System!

Requires:

  • NOTHING! Even batteries are included!

The only thing I considered lacking, or "missing", in the items included in the stock package was the lack of a heading hold gyro. I did not realize how sloppy a flyer I have become without the HH gryo.

Setup:

Assembly? What assembly! Even the main blades are attached at the factory! The battery pack arrives with a partial charge, intended to be sufficient for the initial trimming flights.

Steps required:

  • Remove heli and radio from box and prepare transmitter to fly.
  • Read instructions, and be sure to understand the curves and set up as described.
  • Extend main blades and confirm they are tight but will spin out properly.
  • Install flight battery.
  • Check blade tracking.
  • Check CG (mine was fine).

The only adjustment I needed to make on this out of the box was the blade tracking. It was only out a half turn. Just a quick adjustment and it was set.

The radio has dials for both the throttle and pitch curves. Just like setting up glow helicopter the importance of the balance of throttle and pitch curves can not be overstated. The manual says beginners should learn with medium to docile pitch settings. I would go farther and say beginners should start with docile settings period.

Flight Performance

The Night Ranger 3D did NOT disappoint me. It offered the level of quality and performance that the manual alluded to.

Lift off:

When trying to lift the night ranger off the ground slow and gentle the ground effect made the helicopter slide around a bit. When I just let the helicopter lift off and get a foot or two of altitude it locked right in and sat there.

Hover:

Hovering a foot off the ground the night ranger is very solid. Hovering it under a foot and ground effect starts to move it around and made me feel like I was chasing it a bit.

Forward flight:

Slow forward flight was rock solid. Fast forward flight the showed a little bit of a pitch up tendency.

Inverted:

Either looping or rolling into inverted flight was easy if not really quick. The pitch and throttle curves were a nice match for inverted flight.

Backward flight:

This taught me how much I really rely on the heading hold gyros. For a couple of years I have been telling myself I fly pretty well in backwards flight. Then I try to do it with this and find that I need to fly the tail? I am good at this! So, why cant I do it with the Night Ranger. Well it took me a little while to start flying the tail again while going backwards and found that I could do it. The tail had plenty of authority if I just used it like it should be used. After spending a fair amount of time relearning how to fly backwards....guess what? I've since found that my backwards flight with my glow helicopters is better than it ever was.

Landing:

Within a foot of the ground I started to chase the night ranger a little bit. I found the best way to land was to just let it settle to the ground. Yea yea, I know letting the helicopter do the flying is the best way to fly.

Comparison

Does it fly like a 50 size machine? No not really, and it isn't meant to. If you are flying outside, of course, it gets pushed around by the wind. The brushless motor really brings this bird to life; and, with the brushless motor it's power really is comparable to a 30 size machine, impressive!, and understandably not that of a 50.

Of course, where this helicopter really shines is flying indoors. Try to fly your favorite 50 sized bird in the local gym, golf dome, or your garage!

The only other ready to fly helicopter with collective pitch I've been exposed to at this time is the Blade CP from Horizon. I have only had the chance to hover a blade CP for a short time and I have watched the CP fly at several events.

Observations from my flight time with both helicopters:

  • Stock: The Night Ranger 3D and the Blade CP have similar basic hovering characteristics.
  • PLUS: The Night Ranger allows the adjustment of the pitch and throttle curves, allowing the pilot to fine tune the helicopter to his/her flying style. This is a BIG advantage to this transmitter.
  • Upgrade: With the brushless upgrade and lipoly installed, the Night Ranger is suddenly in a whole new class, and the two helicopters really donít compare any more. The extra power makes the night ranger a truly 3D capable micro helicopter.
  • PLUS: The night ranger is easily upgradeable to brushless, without changing any radio gear. Venom came up with a neat plug and play upgrade that other companies are sure to emulate.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, due to video equipment problems, we've been unable to provide reasonable quality flight video. Our apologies. The video below has some stutter to it, which is a camera problem, NOT the model's problem. However, we thought you'd like to see what we WERE able to get. We hope to add additional, higher quality flight video at a later time.

Downloads

(More extensive flight video is also available on the manufacturer's website. Click here to view!)

Conclusion

Hits:

  • CCPM control
  • Radio has pitch and throttle volume adjustments, idle up switch plus the normal trims and reversers.
  • Upgraded parts available including brushless motor, brushless speed control and carbon fiber main blades, WITH easy plug-n-play installation.
  • Very complete and ready to fly unit.
  • Very complete manual with a great description of controls and flying for the newbie pilot.
  • GREAT indoor performance.

Misses:

  • Non-heading-hold gyro makes backward flight more difficult than necessary.

This is a GREAT little micro helicopter, which, when upgraded or purchased with the brushless package, is truly a 3D performer. On the brushed package, it's a great first CP machine for a pilot just stepping into aerobatics. It is amazingly complete and pre-sasembled, with a superb manual and the radio is surprisingly high quality and feature-rich.

The Stock motor brushed motor and the stock 650 NiMH battery have enough power for basic acrobatics like loops and rolls but I found it harder to do than with the brushless and li-poly battery. The extra power makes it that much easier to recover from bad attitudes. The extra flying time makes it totally worth the upgrades. And, unlike most micros, the upgrades are truly simple to make and a complete package as well. Well done, Venom Racing/Venom Aircorps!

Discussion

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Old Jun 01, 2006, 08:34 AM
Fun Manager
AMCross's Avatar
Villa Grove, Illinois
Joined May 2000
1,695 Posts
Oops! Fixed a broken link to the venom aircorps website! Enjoy the article!
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 10:18 AM
Crash=change of flying medium
bluesky123's Avatar
Boulder, CO
Joined May 2002
1,351 Posts
I am disappointed that such a knowledgeble and highly respected lady as Ms. Cross failed to mention the crappiness of theis Walkera 0701 transmitter! Do yourself a favour and download its manual from Walkera web site--what a piece of junk! The transmitter is trully only a 4-channel model, there's no way to control channels 5 and 6 independently. Curve adjustment is utterly bizarre, whoever designed this was either high or drunk! The general quality of the transmitter is on par with other Walkera creations: the pots are horrible, the connectors inside the TX are junk, etc. E-flire/E-Sky transmitters are, in theory, less capable but they are somewhat better quality than this Walkera crap.

(Sorry for my foul language, I can't stand it when reviewers praise low quality products just because they got the stuff for free!)
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Old Jul 31, 2006, 12:18 PM
Fun Manager
AMCross's Avatar
Villa Grove, Illinois
Joined May 2000
1,695 Posts
"Bluesky",
I'm sorry for your disappointment. The radio is an inexpensive basic radio included to make this a complete product, and it never gave me any problems. We attributed the 'stutter' more to the model than the transmitter. It isn't meant to be a 7CH or similar, just an inexpensive basic radio to fly this cute little bird. If it were a 4-ch, it couldn't have flown the model at all. I didn't like the curve adjustments, you're right there...I hadn't made a note about that when we did that programming.

I hope you'll recognize and accept -- I can assure you, it wasn't "praise of a low quality product because it was free". I'd forgotten we struggled some with the curve setups, and otherwise, the radio was exactly what I'd expected, a basic, inexpensive unit that did the job adequately.
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