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E-flite Blade mCX Ultra-Micro Helicopter RTF & BNF Review

Michael Heer reviews two of the hottest new products for this fall in the Blade mCX ultra-micro sized helicopter that can be purchased RTF or BNF (Bind N Fly) for those who already have their own Spektrum transmitter.

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Introduction

The Blade mCX
The Blade mCX
Length:7.9"
Height:4.7"
Weight with Battery:1.0oz.
Main Rotor Diameter:7.5"
Main Motor:micro coreless (2)
Battery:1S 3.7V 110mAh LiPo
Transmitter:MLP4DSM 2.4GHz DSM2 4-CH
On-Board Electronics:5-in-1
Charger:1S 3.7V DC LiPo
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Price RTF Model:$129.99
Price BNF Model:

The Blade mCX sold out quickly at my local hobby stores, and I suspect they might well sell out again when the next shipment arrives. I think the reason for this popularity is that the Blade mCX delivers the goods! It lives up to the promise. It is light, stable in flight, easy for a beginner to quickly control and allows f

There is no suspense in this review: I'll tell you right from the start, my Blade mCX is a great flying helicopter!

Kit Contents

Kit Contents RTF Version:

  • Fully assembled and RTF Blade mCX helicopter
  • DC LiPo Charger
  • 4 AA Alkaline batteries to power the Lipo charger
  • 1 1S 3.7 volt 110mAh Lipo battery
  • Instruction manual
  • 2.4GHz DSM2 4-channel transmitter
  • 4 AA alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • Small screwdriver
  • Spare canopy securing rings

Kit Contents for BNF Version includes all of the above except:

  • No transmitter
  • No alkaline batteries for transmitter

Items I Supplied for RTF Version:

  • Nothing!

Items Needed for BNF Version:

  • Spektrum DX7 Transmitter

5-in-1 Unit

This is the heart of the Blade mCX since it includes the receiver, servos, mixer, ESCs and gyro. When the battery is connected to the unit, the gyro initializes, and the ESC arms. It is important for the gyro to work properly that the helicopter be in the proper upright and level position.

Assembly

Remove the bottom plate of the DC LiPo charger, and insert four of the included Alkaline batteries. Replace the bottom plate, and insert the LiPo battery into the front of the charger as shown in the instructions. The charging time for a normally depleted LiPo battery is about 30 minutes, and the battery arrived partially charged so it only took mine about 11 minutes for the first charge.

While the LiPo battery was charging I inserted four Alkaline batteries into the back of the transmitter on my RTF unit and read through the rest of the 35 page instruction manual. The RTF version came already bound to the transmitter, fully assembled and test flown. How sweet it is!

Transmitters

Compatibility

There are a number of compatible transmitters that can be used to operate the Blade mCX. Of the Spektrum transmitters, only the Spektrum DX6 was specifically identified as NOT being compatible.

Compatible:

E-flite LP5DSM

  • Spektrum DX5e
  • Spektrum DX6i
  • Spektrum DX7
  • JR X9303
  • JR 12X

Additionally, modular radios that have been equipped with a Spektrum module are compatible with the Blade mCX.

Binding the mCX to the Selected Transmitter

My RTF unit the 5-in-1 control unit came already bound to the included transmitter and had been test flown. If it ever becomes necessary to rebind or bind a new 5-in-1 unit to the transmitter or new transmitter to the 5-in1 unit I merely have to follow the simple directions contained in the manual and also printed on the back of the RTF transmitter.

Rebinding with the RTF Transmitter:

  • Plug the Lipoly battery into the Blade cMX and wait five seconds.
  • Turn on the transmitter.
  • Center the left stick and push down on it to bind the unit.
  • Lower the throttle.

The exact process for binding required me to look at both the manual the the heli as well as the transmitter. It begins with plugging in the battery to the Blade mCX and leaving it on for five seconds to start the binding process. I have bound mine to a Spektrum DX7.

Optional Accessories and Replacement Parts

With about a 30 minute charging time for 6-8 minutes of flight time, I recommend extra LiPo batteries for the helicopter. I have purchased three extra batteries. I also recommend an extra set of rotors.

There are a number of optional glow in the dark parts and replacement parts.

Optional Glow in the Dark Parts

  • Optional main frame
  • Optional skid
  • Optional rotors
  • Optional swashplate
  • Optional canopy
  • Optional vertical fin

HINT: During this review I had one part break during the 30 some flights performed by myself and others: the connecting ball on the upper blade for the stabilizing bar bar broke during a crash. I just took out the two screws securing the rotors and switched sides so that the good ball link that had been on the opposite side was now in the proper position for it to link to the stabilizer bar. I was back in the air in a couple of minutes.

I got 20 charges (manual says 15-20) with the supplied 4 AA batteries for the charger. I might buy some rechargeable AA batteries: The chargers worked well but did slow down as the AA batteries got weaker.

Save the Box

If you have the space to store the display box I highly recommend that you save it. I know many will keep their Blade out on display and ready for a quick flight but I prefer to store mine safely in its box with the extra batteries and the charger, ready for me to take to a school for a presentation or to go to an indoor fun fly. The equipment stays together, it is easy to carry with the built in handle and is well protected.

Flying

Checklist:

  • Turn on transmitter
  • Insert the battery into the holder under the helicopter
  • With the helicopter level, connect the battery to the lead from the 5-in one control unit and the 5-in-one control unit will properly initialize and arm
  • Fly the model
  • Land the model
  • Unplug the flight battery from the 5-in-1 control unit
  • Turn off the transmitter

Basics

With the RTF version of the Blade mCX ultra-micro helicopter I received a Mode II transmitter. The left stick controls throttle: up and down, as well as rotation in either direction. The right stick controls direction: forward and backward as well as to either side. There are digital trim buttons for these controls to allow for adjustment so that the helicopter is as stable as possible with the control sticks in the neutral position. That would at first blush appear to be all the control available from the standard transmitter with the RTF model.

However, having read the instruction manual as my battery charged for the first time I learned on page 22 that the MLP4DSM transmitter comes equipped with a Dual Rate feature! This feature allowed me to toggle between the high and low control rates for the aileron, elevator, rudder channel and even the throttle. These are either all on low rates or high rates. To toggle between the two I just pushed down on the right stick on the transmitter, with the transmitter turned on and heard an audible click.

When first turned on the transmitter was on high rate, and the red LED on the transmitter glowed a solid red. High rate gave me the most movement of the servos and therefore the most movement of the helicopter. I clicked down on the right stick and the red LED on the transmitter flashed to show that the low rates were now on. Low rate was recommended for the first time or less experienced pilot as the reduced movement makes the available control smoother for more easily controlled hovering and flying.

The primary flight controls were very well explained so that anyone who takes the time to read about them in the manual should get a good basic understanding of how to control the Blade mCX.

The Blade mCX has coaxial counter-rotating blades that are designed to make for a very stable flying platform by canceling out the rotational torque created by each blade. They don't require a tail rotor for stability. Directional control is obtained by the servos creating a slight tilting of the rotors.

Taking Off and Landing

Take off was easy with just a smooth adjustment of increased throttle until lift off occurred on its own. Precision landing was immediate for the experienced pilot and will come with practice to the new pilot. With the 2.4GHz radio system I didn't need to remember to aim my transmitter at the helicopter as I do with my Infrared controlled copters.

There were a couple of good signs that told me it was time to land while I was flying: As the battery ran out of power I had to hold more left stick or adjust the trim tab to keep the helicopter from turning more in place, and when I had to start adding more and more throttle to keep the copter airborne in level flight. It was/is better for the battery (I have been told) to land a little early rather then to try and milk the last second of flight time out of the battery.

General Flying

The Blade mCX was designed and intended to only be flown indoors. Its total weight of only one ounce makes it susceptible to drift from air currents from fans, air intakes or open windows. It can only be flown outside on a completely calm day. Because of the 2.4GHz system, if I do have calm conditions it can be flown in direct sunlight unlike most infrared controlled helicopters.

Most new pilots will find moving the left stick and having the helicopter rotate to the direction they want to travel and then using the right stick to move to that location by going forwards or backwards will be easier than using the right stick side to side control ("aileron control"). With experience, using the side directional control of the right stick will become familiar and popular.

I found my Blade mCX to move backwards a little faster then forward. I suspect most pilots will find the speed of movement of the helicopter in the different directions to be satisfactory. There are some mechanical adjustments discussed in the threads of Ezone that reportedly allow for more speed but they may make control more difficult, especially for the less experienced pilot.

Is This For a Beginner?

This is for both the beginner and the experienced pilot. I give the Blade mCX the highest beginner appropriate approval of any product I have ever flown.

A Beginner's First Flight

One day when I was doing some test flying and demo flying for some coworkers I asked a bright young lady I work with named Allie if she would be willing to try and fly the Blade mCX. With literally 30 seconds of ground school training from me and a short demonstration flight, Allie flew the Blade mCX with the dual rates turned on. Below are pictures and a video of Allie's first flight (most of the cuts in the video were do to my camera going out of focus).

Downloads

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

I am really impressed with the Blade mCX. Its smaller size makes it a lot less intimidating to the new or inexperienced pilot when compared to the Blade CX2. It also pushes less air so it is easy to operate in a small space. The dual rate on the Blade mCX makes it a less reactive copter and smooth to operate. I am delighted to add the mXC to my helicopter stable and have no plans to make changes or modifications... except I will get a new white canopy/body and custom paint it so I can better tell mine from others when I fly with friends.

Pluses:

  • RTF right out of the box!
  • Hovers very well.
  • Is a true 4 channel helicopter.
  • 2.4GHz can fly a number of them together and can fly in brightly lit areas with no loss of range vs infrared controlled helicopters.
  • Spare parts are available if needed.
  • Beginner can fly it.
  • Experienced pilot can fly it very well.

Minuses:

  • I haven't found any negatives with the three I have flown so far.
Last edited by Angela H; Nov 24, 2008 at 09:49 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 27, 2008, 10:03 AM
No, you can't fly it.
SwissBoy's Avatar
United States, WI, Menomonie
Joined Nov 2006
711 Posts
Lol, nice thief video...love the ending.
Thanks for the great review!
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 10:18 AM
Have glue gun, will travel...
Ken1.8T's Avatar
USA, NY, LONG ISLAND
Joined Mar 2004
870 Posts
Mike,
Is this heli capable of maintained forward flight? Every video I've seen shows simple hovering, up and down and spinning!
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 10:38 AM
Cranky old fart
Balr14's Avatar
Germantown, WI.
Joined Oct 2007
21,486 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken1.8T
Mike,
Is this heli capable of maintained forward flight? Every video I've seen shows simple hovering, up and down and spinning!
It flies like most coax helis; in a straight line it's slow, but introduce any sideways or throttle movement and it picks up nicely. I've flown my MCX through every room in my house without stopping or landing; up and down stairs, through the bathroom shower doors, over ceiling fan blades, everywhere.
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 10:44 AM
Balsa just crashes better
Cub Fan's Avatar
Bradenton, FL
Joined Nov 2004
601 Posts
This is one cool heli- My son has the Bind & Fly version. I was able to fly it right from the get go with out prior heli experience. It's on my Christmas list for sure.

Great review and your video was awesome- seems every one you do gets better and better

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone- Don't forget all the things we can be thankful for even in these challenging times.

Cub fan
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 11:24 AM
Resident Skeptican
Barak1001's Avatar
USA, AL, Hanceville
Joined May 2008
4,323 Posts
The only problem I have with this review is they mention breaking the ball off that connects the flybar linkage to the upper rotor hub in the review, yet don't mention it as a con in the conclusion.

Personally I'd say the fact that it's a bit pricey and the ball breaking is a common occurrence for people are both cons. Of course you can't expect someone that sells them to mention it being pricey as a con.

Otherwise good review.
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 11:35 AM
Serenity Now!
jbrundt's Avatar
O'Fallon, MO, USA
Joined Jan 2001
1,329 Posts
Great review and spot on.

I bought mine last Friday and have been having a ball with it ever since. It's the best micro heli out there and much better than the Piccoo Z's and their clones by a long shot (....yeah I know those aren't co-axials but I tend to lump all micros together).

Get one of these mCX's and you will not be disappointed.

Jeff
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 11:40 AM
Electric Coolhunter
Thomas B's Avatar
United States, TX, Fort Worth
Joined Jun 2000
14,622 Posts
Mike, your usual excellent job on the review.

At first I thought that the Futaba TXs with Spektrum modules would not work on the mCX, but since the Spektrum module converts the Futaba TX channel sequence into the JR/Spektrum sequence, it does indeed work!

My only question about the mCX is the fact that the stock charger appears to charge the little lipo at a good bit greater than 1C. (110 mAh lipo, 300 mAh charger rate on the charger). I would love to know why Horizon is charging that little lipo so fast.....

My mCX was a big hit at the local R/C club meeting last Monday night....it is not often that the models brought for show and tell can be flown in the small restaurant room we meet in...

Interestingly enough, the only other show and tell there was a Walkeria 4#3B, the all up "real" sub micro heli. It was NOWHERE as easy to fly and as stable as the mCX.

Horizon hit it out of the ballpark with this great little heli.
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Last edited by Thomas B; Nov 27, 2008 at 11:48 AM.
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 12:03 PM
Cranky old fart
Balr14's Avatar
Germantown, WI.
Joined Oct 2007
21,486 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barak1001
The only problem I have with this review is they mention breaking the ball off that connects the flybar linkage to the upper rotor hub in the review, yet don't mention it as a con in the conclusion.

Personally I'd say the fact that it's a bit pricey and the ball breaking is a common occurrence for people are both cons. Of course you can't expect someone that sells them to mention it being pricey as a con.

Otherwise good review.
Replacement blades/holder set cost is $3.00 and takes about 2 minutes to fix, you only use one and you get two per set. I fly my MCX about an hour per day for about a month and run into all sorts of objects. I average about one crash per minute. So far, I broke one ball link. My total repair cost so far is $1.50.
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Last edited by Balr14; Nov 27, 2008 at 12:15 PM.
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 12:04 PM
Have glue gun, will travel...
Ken1.8T's Avatar
USA, NY, LONG ISLAND
Joined Mar 2004
870 Posts
Can some brave soul post a video of the MCX does something that resembles FFF???
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 12:26 PM
Cranky old fart
Balr14's Avatar
Germantown, WI.
Joined Oct 2007
21,486 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken1.8T
Can some brave soul post a video of the MCX does something that resembles FFF???
Check here, about 12:00 into Jasmine2501's review.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=959035
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 12:29 PM
Registered User
Bing44's Avatar
United States, OR, Independence
Joined Feb 2008
1,288 Posts
I have two of these and have never replaced a ball. The ball only breaks off if you crash, so don't crash. The same thing happens to every heli if you crash. I don't think the price is out of line with the quality of a heli this small. Tell us how much you have invested in heli mods and RC airplanes. I got my BNF from my LHS for $89.95. Don't compare it to a Lama V3 or such because this one has a 2.4G system.

As for FFF - define the term in scale MPH. I think mine flies scale fwd speed, and all I had to do was turn the fwd cyclic link in 2 turns on one and it was fine out of the box on the second one. Go buy one and you won't need a video of FFF, you can experience it first hand. Or go fly your park jet for your speed fix and fly this in the house on a rainy day, the mission it was intended for and does a great job at.
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 12:54 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,530 Posts
Broke a ball link in a crash. I removed the top blade and reinstalled it with the ball from the other side replacing the broken one. It has worked fine ever since and did not require a replacement purchase.
Price of both models was mentioned in the article so I certainly didn't hide it. I know all you readers are smart enough to decide for yourself if the product is worth it or not to YOU! I bought one before ever thinking about doing this review so it was worth it to me.
For forward speed I mentioned at least twice that there were threads in RC Groups that discussed how to make it faster. As mentioned above one method is very easy to do. Reviews on products such as this are supposed to be without modifications so that readers get a view of what the product does right out of the box.
For faster forward flight simply fly at a slight angle forward right and then forward left as shown in the Sneak Thief. You pick up forward speed without any physical modification. I love my mCX Blades. I have one in regular trim and one with most of the glow products added to it. I have badly damaged one "Body" but I have let a lot of people fly my mCX Blade and they have all loved it and been successful. That was now replaced with a white body on my glow version.
Happy Thanksgiving. Mike
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 01:27 PM
The sky is my playground.
Dora Nine's Avatar
United States, NH
Joined May 2005
7,707 Posts
Great review! E-Flite definately has another winner on their hands.
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Old Nov 27, 2008, 03:26 PM
One of the usual suspects
Vicarious's Avatar
United States, AL, Huntsville
Joined Jun 2007
1,475 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
...I have one in regular trim and one with most of the glow products added to it. I have badly damaged one "Body" but I have let a lot of people fly my mCX Blade and they have all loved it and been successful. That was now replaced with a white body on my glow version.
Happy Thanksgiving. Mike
HA! Gives a whole new meaning to "flying glow"
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