The Bravo III Saga - Background & process of elimination - RC Groups
View Poll Results: Which manufacturer makes the best 4-channel heli for beginners?
E-flite: Pricey but worth it. Spectrum compatible & good quality 0 0%
E-sky: Tough, affordable and upgradable 0 0%
Nine Eagles: E-flite quality at half the price 2 100.00%
Walkera: "Hobby grade" with factory upgrades 0 0%
Voters: 2. You may not vote on this poll

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This thread is privately moderated by Quagga, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Feb 14, 2011, 03:09 AM
Registered User

The Bravo III Saga - Background & process of elimination


A friend introduced me to R/C helicopters in November of 2010, when he brought me a 2-channel Execuheli clone from Dubai. I was mildly surprised that the little bird actually flew and I was instantly hooked. The heli was quite powerful, and after trimming it held its course pretty well. Removing the throttle spring made maintaining altitude a lot easier. After some practise I could take off, fly from room to room and land. Basic control. Unfortunately the transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) often lost communication, resulting in a runaway heli. Frantically chasing the little red chicken-dancing "Airwolf" was an unfortunate aspect of the ownership experience. Soon the blades were split and the fly-bar broken, and finding spares has proved difficult. Another drawback was that it charged off the Tx, giving 40mins of flight per 6 AA batteries. Not financially or environmentally responsible.

My research then brought me here to, where I learnt about the 3-channel Syma S107 which turned out to be my next step up. The S107 was a totally different ball-game: It could HOVER for crying out loud, and actually went where I wanted it to go. The quality feel of the model was impressive, and it has survived over 16 hours of n00b abuse, requiring only replacement of lower rotor blades and a lost fly-bar linkage. Amazing, considering the countless (throttle-off!) crashes it has suffered.

My first two radio controlled helicopters. 20 Hours of combined flight, for under 40.

Process of elimination:

Logically, my next step was to be a 4-channel helicopter. After spending far too much time researching the matter, and asking loads of experienced pilots' opinions, my wish-list included:
  • 4-channel coaxial with good flight characteristics
  • Scale appearance, with realistic lighting
  • 2.4 GHz
  • Similar size to S107
  • Removable battery
  • Decent controller
  • Tough and reliable
  • Good spares backup
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Forum support comparable to the S107
The options I considered were:
  • E-flite mCX, mCX S300, mCX 2 or mSR
  • E-sky Lama V3, V4 or the Honey Bee FP (HBFP)
  • G.T. Models 5888
  • Nine Eagles Solo, Draco, Bravo III, Solo Pro or Bravo SX
Despite offering many apparently-desirable models, Walkera did not make the list because of their "troubled" reputation. First to go were the single-rotor fixed-pitch (FP) models, crossed off in favour of the predictable stability of twin-rotor coaxial (CX) heli's. Next the Lama was discounted on size, and the 5888 because of its relative obscurity. Thus the choice then came down between Nine Eagles' or E-flite's sub-micro coaxials. E-flite has a good reputation, community support and spares backup, plus a clear upgrade path with Spectrum Tx compatibility and BNF versions of all models. Nine Eagles also offers BNF models, minus the Spectrum option, often at half the price of their Blade equivalents.

Not owning, nor planning to buy (nor being able to afford) a computerised radio, I decided to go with Nine Eagles. Strong community support, including Solo Pro's brilliant FAQ (now in FP and CX flavours), certainly played a major role in my decision. Though money no object, my personal favourite was still the recently discontinued E-flite mCX S300.

2 channel vs 3 channel vs 4 channel what heli should you get (4 min 26 sec)
The video that sold me on the E-flite mCX S300 (from 1:30).

Not only does the mCX S300 appear dead easy to fly, I also fell hard for its scale Hughes/Sikorsky/Schweizer 300 look. Reading up on the S300, I soon ran across MIA Micro-FLIGHT's conversion kit, as applied to a Bravo SX by Donaldsneffe. The kit consists of a new canopy and frame (available in various colours) and includes aluminium landing gear and tail boom. To me this seemed to be the perfect compromise: Nine Eagles' price/performance ratio, wrapped up in tough scale looks. So at long last I picked the Bravo III (312A) over the Solo (210A) because of its 1mm bigger motors. Whereas the 6mm units in the lighter Solo might struggle with the extra weight, the 7mm motors of the Bravo has no problems lifting its stock MD500 fuselage, which weighs the same as the S300 kit. Having read positive reports on the performance (and added stability due to slightly heavier weight) of the Hobby King 150mAh batteries, I duly ordered 8, the number decided by shipping weight.

Donaldsneffe's Bravo SX with MIA S-300 kit.

Nine Eagles Bravo SX - MIA Microflight S300 (0 min 31 sec)

Shopping list (prices include shipping to The Netherlands):
  • Miracle-Mart: 1 x RTF Bravo III + Charger (not included as standard!) 68
  • Hobby King: 8 x 150 mAh Nine Eagles High Capacity Batteries 16
  • MIA S-300 canopy, frame + medium viscosity CA glue 32
  • TOTAL 116

The grand total still came in at 20 under the price of a RTF mCX2. Time will tell whether I made the right decision, but I'm looking forward to learning more about helicopters by building the kit, and 9 batteries (including the single stock 110 mAh unit) should give me plenty of flight time.

Blame too much TV at an impressionable age, but I'm not too fond of the MD500. With the lone exception of Magnum PI's buddy TC's funky striped example, the "Easter Egg" tends to be cannon fodder for the Airwolfs and Blue Thunders of the world, usually piloted by faceless communists and dime-a-dozen bad guys.

1:1 MD500's skids extent further backwards than the Nine Eagles version.

Thus began the long wait, easily the worst aspect of our brilliant hobby.
Last edited by Quagga; Feb 16, 2011 at 02:02 AM.
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Feb 15, 2011, 04:28 AM
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that's a nice MIA S300, their MPI version for the msr will also work with the Bravos.
Feb 15, 2011, 06:01 AM
Registered User

MPI and due diligence

I must admit I did also consider the MPI fuselage. It does look great, doesn't it? Somehow the S300 just appeals more to me. I'm also quite partial to the Robinson R22. You see, those two are the most affordable real life heli's. I know I'm dreaming, but I like a somewhat attainable dream!

I'm waiting on some spare parts to cure user-induced TBE before building the kit. This gives me the time to perform my due diligence. Currently I'm pondering whether it will be sufficiently stable securing the aluminium tail-boom only by means of the supplied frame, as shown here on the similar mCX frame.

Image from the website of MIA Micro-FLIGHT

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