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E-flite Blade CX2 All-in-One with Spektrum 2.4 GHz Radio System Review

A quick review of the new Blade CX2. The three most obvious changes are 1) a new fuselage, 2) it's bright red not yellow and 3) a 2.4 GHz 5 channel transmitter/radio system. Take a quick spin with Michael Heer see how it flies!

Splash

Introduction


Length:16.42"
Height:7.17"
Main Rotor Diameter:13.60"
Weight RTF w/Battery:8.0 oz

INCLUDED Components:
Main Motor:180, 2
Servos:S60 Super Sub-micro, 2
Transmitter:2.4GHz DSM 5- channel
On Board Electronics:4-in-1 receiver/mixer/ESC/gyro
Flight Battery:7.4V 800mAH Li-Po
Flight Battery Charger:11.1 & 7.4 Li-Po charger
Transmitter Battery:4 AA batteries

Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby

I have owned and flown several coaxial helicopters. One of them has been frequently used as an aviation presentation demo helicopter at schools and to youth groups. My previous model from another manufacturer served me well but did experience a couple of radio glitches over the years and was frankly worn out. The beautiful Blade CX2 with its bright red color grabbed my attention. However the closer for me on this deal was the 2.4 GHz transmitter and the reported glitch-proof operation of the other Spektrum radios, the DX6 & DX7, that are already out in the market. If the Blade CX2 checks out, it will be my new Demo helicopter for RC Aviation presentations.

The All-in-One Kit

Everything I needed to fly the Blade CX2 came in one box. There was nothing else that I needed to have or to buy....not even AA batteries! The following is the list of included contents.

Blade CX2 RTF Contents:

  • Blade CX2 RTF Airframe, all electronics installed
  • LP5DSM 5-Channel Transmitter, 2.4GHz
  • 7.4 800mAH 2-Cell Li-Po, JST/Balance Battery Pack
  • AC to 12V DC, 1.5-Amp Power Supply
  • Pack of 4 AA Batteries for the Transmitter
  • Mounting Accessories & Screwdriver
  • Instruction Manual
  • Video Instruction CD
  • Bind Plug

Other Items Needed:

  • Nothing!
  • Optional parts are available, see text below

Assembly

The Blade CX2 arrived all but fully assembled. Steps were...

  • Read instructions/watch included CD
  • Install 4AA's
  • Attach balance plug of the flight pack to the included balancing charger
  • Charge flight pack with the included charger ONLY (home or in the field)
  • Apply velcro to battery
  • Slide battery in place from the rear
  • Follow normal pre-flight/first flight procedures and GO FLY!

I did inspect to make sure everything was secure. I opened the transmitter, the pack of 4 AA batteries and installed them in back. (I was surprised by the number -- I have never had a transmitter that only required 4 AA batteries.)

I plugged the AC power supply into a wall socket and connected it to the charger. The red LED started flashing on the charger. I connected the 7.4V Li-Po battery pack into the charger using the 3-wire Balance connector. With the battery pack connected to the charger I had both the red and the green LEDs now lit solid. According to the instruction manual that meant it was charging. I started to read more of the instruction manual and watched the supplied video CD. Sometime while I was reading the manual the charger went to solid red, meaning the battery pack was fully charged. I noticed this just under an hour after I had plugged in the battery pack to the charger. Before leaving the subject of the charger it also has two alligator clips on a red and a black pair of wires. The alligator clips can power the charger from a 12-volt battery for charging out at the field.

The video CD and the instructions repeatedly warned me to only use their charger to charge the flight battery pack. Li-Po batteries can be VERY DANGEROUS if not handled properly. Follow their instructions carefully and learn more about Li-Po batteries from discussions on the subject here in E-Zone.

I installed the supplied Velcro like material to the business end of the battery (where the wires come out). Whew!! The assembly was finally finished.

Although the battery was charged using the Balance plug, the pack connects to the Blade CX2 using its JST connector. The battery slides in from the rear. Remember to always power up the transmitter first and it is the last thing to turn off. With the transmitter on I powered up the 4-in-1 unit in the Blade CX2 and watched it arm properly as indicated by the green LED in the 4-in-1 unit. I checked out the control sticks and everything was working properly.

IT was ready to fly, but I wasn't. I forced myself to go back and finish my review of the instruction manual just to make sure I hadn't missed anything as the 2.4GHz radio system was completely new to me, but found nothing new to learn.

I checked the balance of the Blade CX2 with the battery installed using the flybar perpendicular to the fuselage and it balanced perfectly level.

E-Flite LP5DSM 5-Channel Transmitter

The Blade CX2 is controlled using the included E-flite transmitter with Spektrum technology inside and operates in the 2.4GHz band. The beauty of this was that I didn't need to worry about the frequency. As I turned on the transmitter it found an open channel before it began to broadcast. By having the transmitter close to the Blade CX2, it's receiver went to the same channel. With the current frequencies available, literally EIGHTY Blades could fly in the same area without frequency interference with one another.

Best of all there was no conflict or glitches with this system. There were no frequency conflicts, either 2.4gHz or, of course, 72mHz. The system performed flawlessly, without any glitching or other signal concerns at any time. I have only briefly used this system so far and have had no troubles to date. I will discuss this further in the posting thread for this review as I have more time in using this system. Note that a full review of this radio's elder cousin, the Spektrum Brand DX7, just published here on The E-Zone!

I was initially concerned that the transmitter only used four AA batteries for power. I was somewhat comforted by the following statement found on page 13 of the instruction manual:

"Note: Because the LP5DSM transmitter included with the Blade CX2 is equipped with Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM technology,
it does not require the same input voltage or current consumption as a typical 72 MHz transmitter
for proper operation and optimum performance."

I did a range test of about 150 feet and I had complete control of the Blade CX2. That is probably twice as far away as the Blade CX2 will ever get from me in operation. I will do a further range test in the future for the fun of it and discuss it in a note in the discussion section of this review.

Radio Basics for a New Heli Pilot

Our review model was sold in the US and is setup on Mode 2. This description fits only a mode 2 system. Control of the helicopter was through the two main control sticks and the their trim tabs, channels 1-4. The trim tabs are the small controls behind/underneath or to the inside of the main control sticks. They are used for adjusting the neutral position of the controls. Channel 5 was on the transmitter's dial on the top right of the transmitter and was not used in flying the Blade CX2. The left stick was throttle and rudder.

To start flying, I had the left stick at the back/bottom and I had the trim tab there as well. All other trim tabs were set in their middle positions. I moved the throttle stick up and both pairs of rotors on the helicopter started to turn equally but in opposite directions. This counter rotation is what makes the Blade CX2 so stable in flight. Some co-axial copters also have a lot of coning of their blades. (Coning is where the tips go up while rotating. Coning adds to the stability of a copter making it easier to hover but also makes it more difficult to direct the helicopter in flight in anything other than a hover.)While the Blade CX2 does not have the coning of some of these models (which make them less aerobatic), it is equally, or perhaps even more stable. Unlike many beginner helis, the Blade CX2 was sufficiently stable for a beginner to fly but was still easy to steer forward, backward, left and right. It handled very well as displayed in the flight video below.

The side to side motion of the left stick controlled the rudder. It does this by slowing down the upper or lower pair of rotors depending on which side you move the left stick. I could spin the copter left or right or simply change the direction it faced by use of the left stick from side to side. If the nose of the copter drifted to either side the trim tab underneath the left stick was moved in the opposite direction of the nose drift until the heading became steady and stopped drifting.

The right stick controlled "aileron roll" with side to side motion and let me slide the helicopter to the left and right. Moving the right stick to the right, the forward servo pulled the swashplate downward. Moving the stick to the left, the front servo pushed the swashplate upward. The movement of the right stick from front to back -- elevator -- let me control the helicopter's forward and backward motion. Pushing the right stick forward or up cause the rear servo to push the swashplate upward. Pulling the stick down/backwards the rear servo pulls the swashplate downward.

If the helicopter drifted in any direction I could stop that by adjustment of the appropriate trim tab...front to back with the elevator trim tab and sliding left to right with the aileron trim tab. Again the control of directional movement was very good. I found the control of direction to be superior compared to the other co-axial copters I have operated. Of course it does not move directionally as quickly as an aerobatic copter, but they lack the stability that is a key feature of the Blade CX2.

Optional Parts

There is a complete list of replacement parts so that broken parts can be replaced and you can get back in the air. But in addition to that they have a limited number of optional parts. These fall into three categories of optional parts: 1) functional, 2) cosmetic 3) Upgrades.

Under functional parts, there are three optional items. The first is training gear that involves rods and balls, which lowers the balance on the helicopter and makes it more difficult to accidental turn over. I didn't feel a need to use training gear but if it is your first copter they can be helpful as you gain experience flying it. The second item is a heat sink and the third item is heat sink compound. They help to extend the life of the main motors by dissipating heat. If you plan to fly a lot and long lengths, this is a handy option to help keep the motors working properly for your full flying session.

The second area of options effect appearance. Here they have a number of new bodies for the chopper, including a yellow body, a police copter body and a Marine copter body with optional rockets and machine guns as well as decals for that fuselage.

The upgrades currently include five aluminum parts, including a swashplate set and aluminum bearing holder w/ bearing and more. I will consider exchanging/upgrading to some of these parts in the future and will look for reports in RCGroups.com's forum as others use them and report on them in the future.

Upgrade photos are courtesy of Horizonhobby.com.

Flying

I like to start every helicopter flight with the helicopter in front of me and facing away from me as if we are both looking forward. This has the helicopter's front, back, left and right responses situated in line for those directions for myself. Operation of the helicopter is easier when our directions match each other. As I warm-up and get into the flow I can then fly the helicopter in any direction. I strongly recommend any new pilot adopt this set-up starting position as well.

Standing behind the Blade CX2, I powered her up and got into a hover about 6 inches off the ground. I noticed that the Blade CX2 was drifting a bit to the left. I landed and gave a couple of clicks to the right aileron -- the right stick bottom trim tab.

When I next powered up the Blade CX2, it was almost steady. I landed and added one more click of right trim and when I next powered up it was a nice stable hover. I flew for a couple of minutes a foot off the ground and made sure the CX2 was trimmed properly. I then powered up and got the hover to about 3 feet off the ground. I pirouetted to the left and right using rudder.

As I pushed the right stick just slightly forward, the Blade CX2 tilted forward and started to go forward and slightly down. I added a little more throttle and she immediately started to go forward faster and climb. She was more responsive then I expected based on my previous experience with other co-axial helicopters. I spent the rest of the first battery pack making slow controlled circles in both directions and slowly going up and down. After about six minutes of total flying I landed and ended that session. I later recharged the battery for the next session.

The next morning I got in two flying sessions with about an hour of charge time in between them. I experienced no glitches and had no problems with the Blade CX2. I was taking it slowly as the only helicopter flying I had done in the last two months was on my RealFlight simulator. Work required I stop but I got it charged up during the morning. Unfortunately, wind prevented any thoughts of flying outside during my lunch hour. I swung by our church on the way home and had a session in our fellowship hall.

I was definitely impressed by the CX2 as I was able to open her up a bit more with the additional space. I got a little carried away and almost hit a light fixture and decided it was time to land as it had been about eight minutes. It climbed and descended in a hover per my control and did so in forward, backward or side motion as well. It went where I directed it and did so with some speed and authority.

The following day I shot the first video in a conference room. I recharged the battery and it only took about 15 minutes as only a little operation time was involved that morning.

Flying outdoors

With a full battery charge I had one flying session out of doors and my friend Jeff had two flying sessions of about five minutes each out of doors with a fully charged battery. We both found the CX2 to be easy to fly in little or no breeze. However, a stronger breeze required quick sticks to keep the Blade CX2 in the same position and penetration into the breeze became more difficult. At one point it required full forward right stick for the CX2 to barely penetrate forward. I would not recommend an inexperienced pilot to try and fly it in anything more then a very light breeze. The videos below show flying outdoors in a light breeze and in no breeze.

Blade Strike?

Other then penetrating in a breeze I have not had any problems thus far with flying the Blade CX2. Many if not most training helicopters that I have seen and flown -- be they co-axial or with a tail rotor --have blades they are secured to the copter at a single point and those blades pivot around that point. Thus, if there is a blade strike, the blade moves back in a pivot motion that I think absorbs some of the impact. The Blade CX2 has rigidly connected blades. There is no pivot in them. If there is a blade strike, I am not sure how the blades will respond. While I had no blade strikes, I suspect that these blades may be easier to break if there is a blade strike then those of the helicopters that have pivoting blades. I didn't feel like intentionally having a blade strike to see what would happen as a result. Horizon assures us that there are no issues with the blade mounting, and that this should not be a problem.

Is it for beginners?

Yes! But learn to fly it with small movements before you go to throwing the sticks around -- she is responsive enough that you can get into trouble if you don't keep in control of yourself and the CX2. My previous co-axial helicopter from another company was a great hovering machine but was slow in moving forward or tilting. The Blade CX2 is good at hovering but also quick to move forward or tilt. Don't use that responsiveness before you know what you are doing.

Tip for Beginners

Do not try and make your first flight off the coffee table between the TV and the sofa.

Reasons to go slow...

  1. Your Blade CX2 may have some drift initially that you will have to adjust out with the trim tabs.
  2. There may be some air currents you haven't noticed before.
  3. You may not know what the heck you are doing yet!

Mike's tips for beginners first flights:

  • Give yourself every chance for success by giving yourself lots of room.
  • 10' x 10' is the minimum space I recommend for the first flight, more is better.
  • No uncaged animals in the room.
  • All spectators should be behind you.
  • There is no need to go more then a foot off the ground to trim the Blade CX2.
  • Land the Blade CX2, adjust the trim tab and take-off again.
  • Safety first for people, secondly for your Blade CX2.
  • Learn to hover confidently, then easy hops of slight increase in altitude, back to hover, then land before considering ANY forward flight.

With a couple flights under your belt and the Blade CX2 trimmed properly for non-drift flight, you may soon be taking off and landing from the coffee table and flying through the Grand Canyon (space between sofa and coffee table). But make sure you know your helicopter before you start with the trick flying. Transitions to and from forward flight are challenging. Take your time learning them - ideally on a simulator!

Gallery/Video

Downloads

Editor's note: The transmitter is actually an E-Flite Transmitter with Spektrum technology, and the plugs on the 4-in-1, helpfully pointed out in the video, are actually at the other end of the unit.

BE SURE to enjoy the outdoor flying video!

Conclusion

I LIKE IT!

I LIKE IT A LOT!

Anyone with a modicum of discipline, patience, and coordination should be able to fly the Blade CX2.

I have recently flown some of the less expensive toy type co-axial copters and while I could "fly" them, I couldn't control them like some people in their videos. I had no such trouble steering the Blade CX2 indoors. It went where I wanted it to go. I can't put in words how good it felt to have the Blade CX2 do what I was directing it to do and to do so pretty responsively.

This is my new demo craft for indoor aviation demonstrations!

Last edited by AMCross; Dec 21, 2006 at 01:25 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 21, 2006, 02:28 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
Palmdale, CA
Joined Oct 2000
13,465 Posts
Anyone with some airplane experience can fly the Blade CX-2!
I've had 8 newbies to helis fly my Blade CX, and all loved it!
The Blade CX-2 is even better!
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 02:37 PM
Vampyre Inc
HoverDown3K's Avatar
Rochester, New York
Joined Nov 2004
2,562 Posts
Nice write up, but that isn't news, everyone knows the BCX2 is great. Fastest dual rotor I have played with, great response!
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 05:34 PM
Live, Die, FLY
Kalispell, in the Rocky Mountains
Joined Jul 2006
497 Posts
Words cannot describe how well they fly
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 10:36 PM
Registered User
EEZFlyer's Avatar
Salt Lake City,UT
Joined Nov 2006
272 Posts
Well I was pretty sure I was buying one of these, but your review seals the deal. I cant wait.
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 11:19 PM
I need more ceiling!!!
sting35's Avatar
Okinawa, Japan
Joined May 2006
2,206 Posts
Ever since I heard about the 2.4Ghz system include with the Blade, I keep waiting for someone to ask the obvious question but they never do. So, here goes: can the Tx be used with anything besides the Blade CX?
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 11:23 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
Palmdale, CA
Joined Oct 2000
13,465 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by sting35
Ever since I heard about the 2.4Ghz system include with the Blade, I keep waiting for someone to ask the obvious question but they never do. So, here goes: can the Tx be used with anything besides the Blade CX?
.
It's probably possible to seperate the receiver unit from the 4-in-1 in the CX-2 and use that in an airplane.
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 11:36 PM
I need more ceiling!!!
sting35's Avatar
Okinawa, Japan
Joined May 2006
2,206 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky Paul
.
It's probably possible to seperate the receiver unit from the 4-in-1 in the CX-2 and use that in an airplane.
Well, that's not exactly what I meant. I took the 4-in-1 out my CoCo Lama and put it in a Mini-Slinger flying wing. What I meant is, are there any Rx's that will work with this... like the ones from the DX-6 / 7?
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 06:53 AM
gumbo ya ya!
skotbro's Avatar
down da bayou
Joined Feb 2006
95 Posts
Nice!

I really liked my CX but the CX2 I love. With the 2.4 Gig command there are no worries It is more responsive and less twitching you can clearly tell the difference in the handling. Waiting for the CP 2.4 Gig

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

Scott
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 08:00 AM
Registered User
Michigan
Joined Apr 2001
534 Posts
Sting35: Horizon has a soon to be available, very small receiver that will work with the CX2 transmitter, the AR6100. The TX also has some undocumented other flight modes that can be selected by the dip switches.
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 09:32 AM
gwh
Registered User
Fort Worth, Texas
Joined Dec 1996
1,608 Posts
Besides being able to use the CX2 Transmitter with the AR6100 receiver, you can also use the DX7 transmitter with the 4-in-1 Receiver in the CX2!
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 10:59 AM
Smayzels
California
Joined Oct 2004
3 Posts
the flight times

of my 9 month old BCX, after the last motor replacement and "tune-up", had gone from ~11 minutes down to 7.

I tried to rebuild it one more time, but just couldn't get it to trim correctly. With 57 flights and ~8.5 hours on the motors in the last 6 weeks alone, I figured I had just worn it out.

With my plan to show off for the family over Christmas in doubt, lusting after the new radio system, and the need of a replacement for indoor flying, I visited the LHS yesterday afternoon and picked up the CX2 for my wife (she's buying me the iPod she wants;-), almost making us late for a very special event (hey you gotta have your priorities).

After reading this review and the comments, I know I made a good decision, the batteries are charging as I type

Happy Holidays
s
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 01:43 PM
Motor Maniac
Orange County, CA
Joined Feb 2002
2,875 Posts
Wonder if Horizon will ever unbundle the TX so you could buy a DX7 TX and use it instead? I've thought about purchasing the CX2, and also thought about buying the DX7. I'd really prefer the DX7 at the TX once I got some time on the CX2.

The 4 AA batts on the CX2 TX put me off. Can you get a NiMH or LiPo replacement pack?
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 01:49 PM
gwh
Registered User
Fort Worth, Texas
Joined Dec 1996
1,608 Posts
You can pick up a four pack of rechargeable AA batteries almost anywhere. http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...uct_id=4291460
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 02:32 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
Palmdale, CA
Joined Oct 2000
13,465 Posts
4 AA Alkalines last a long time in the LP5DSM.. No need to worry about that.
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