|Main Rotor Diameter:||18.7" (475mm)|
|Tail Rotor Diameter:||5.1" (130mm)|
|Flying Weight:||10 oz (293g)|
|Construction:||Composite and fiberglass frame; alloy tail boom; carbon fiber tail support rods and tail slider pushrod; composite/aluminum Bell-Hiller head and swashplate with composite links; machined aluminum and composite tail slider; polycarbonate canopy; ABS resin main blades with optional carbon fiber; composite tail blades; composite drive gears; plastic landing skids|
|Options:||Padded aluminum carrying case, training skids, high-performance wooden blades|
|Cyclic Servos:||Skyartec VTS-05B 9g analog|
|Tail Servo:||Skyartec SCM-9A 9g analog|
|Transmitter:||Skyartec 2.4GHz SKY-706 seven channel CCPM, programmable via a PC|
|Receiver:||Skyartec SKY-X301 three-axis, two-in-one gyro/receiver combination|
|Battery:||Skyartec High-Power 900mAh 15C lithium-polymer with JST-XH balancing plug and JST CON-240 power plug|
|Motor:||Skyartec BL250 4500Kv brushless outrunner|
|ESC:||Skyartec BMC-15A 15-amp|
|Typical Flight Duration:||Five minutes|
|Minimum Skill Level:||Intermediate|
|Manufacturer:||Skyartec R/C Model Fun Co., Ltd., Unit 420, 4th Floor, Nanyou Commercial Services Building, No. 21 Deng Liang Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China|
|Available From:||Park RC Models, Auburn Hills, Michigan USA|
|Retail/Selling Price (USD):||$270.95/$219.95|
During the course of my first RCGroups review discussing the merits of a Skyartec R/C Model Fun Co., Ltd. product, namely the amazing Wasp X3V, Max Ettinger, owner of North American distributor Park RC Models of Auburn Hills, Michigan USA asked if I'd like to review that model's immediate predecessor. It's difficult to say no to an offer like that, so naturally, I agreed.
Anyway, the predecessor in question is the Skyartec Wasp X3 RTF CCPM micro heli.
This feature-packed yet affordably priced machine is deserving of a place at the top of the Skyartec Wasp helicopter line and it was in fact at the top prior to the introduction of the X3V a few short months later.
The X3V benefitted in no small part from the X3 and remains an excellent way to get into a highly sophisticated 250-class helicopter without breaking the hobby budget, basically lacking its successor's machined flybarless main rotor and machined tail rotor slider parts.
It, like all Skyartec helicopters from Park RC Models, undergoes a comprehensive fifty-point quality control check and a thirty-second test hover. Buyers receive the actual check list with the model as well as a CD-ROM with the transmitter programming software and two flight simulator programs for additional value. An assembly/maintenance manual and other related documentation is e-mailed to the customer in time for the model's arrival via US Post Office Priority Mail.
Perhaps one of the more interesting and truly groundbreaking bits of customer service involves how Park RC Models often shoots video of each individually serialized Wasps and uploads the video to YouTube. That link is then e-mailed to the customer. Add some extras along the lines of the aforementioned flight simulator software and a pair of carbon fiber blades and you have one heck of a deal for your hard-earned hobby bucks.
I'm about to run unit number WH314563 through its paces, so grab some refreshments and let's get to flying.
The goodies packed with the Wasp X3 are the same as those packed with the X3V:
The only things needed are:
As seen in the above photos, Max was kind enough to send my example in one of the $40 carrying cases. It's invaluable for protection, storage and transport and I'm ordering a second one for the X3V.
I want to stress that the case is an extra-cost option, but worth the price. It's also presently in limited supply, so checking with Park RC Models before ordering a case is highly recommended.
There's very little to do in preparation for that first flight. The battery is shipped partially charged and only takes a few minutes to top off with the enclosed charger. It's nicer than most packed with RTFs not only for its two- or three-cell charging capability but for its enclosed AC adapter as well. Many of the "big brands" provide a charger, but the AC adapter is an extra cost item. The really good news is, the 12V AC adapter will work with most of those other brands should one have one or two in one's collection. Just double-check the polarity.
The case is a very nice piece of work and I highly recommend its purchase. It in turn had been carefully packed in Park RC Model's custom-made 200# test heavy duty packaging. Other than a slight ding in a corner of the case doubtless caused by some rough handling during shipment, most likely on its trip from China, it arrived in otherwise perfect condition along with its contents.
And the contents are exceedingly nice.
The X3 is no spindly, plasticky micro or T-Rex clone but rather a miniaturized version of a larger machine and an original design. The universally styled Bell-Hiller main rotor head (think Walkera to get an idea) is crafted of beautifully molded composites with a CNC-milled aluminum center block secured to the mainshaft by a small nut and bolt and not merely a pin as is the case with some models of this size class. Tough ABS resin blades - which fly beautifully - will take an occasional hit without splintering as wooden blades do, an important consideration not just for beginners. The canopy retaining posts are machined aluminum as well; they're shipped in a zip-lock bag taped to the model prior to shipment and should be installed before flying as they help to support the main rotor carrier block. Fiberglass main frame side plates sandwich a composite central block while an alloy tail boom with ABS resin stabilizer fins extends back to a mostly composite tail slider assembly.
All hardware except for that holding the center block to the mainshaft and the battery tray to the chassis is button head screws; the entire X3 can be taken apart with a 1.5mm hex driver. The battery retaining strap is a rubber O-ring that does a good job of holding the battery, but an off-the-shelf retainer strap could easily be used. All the servo wiring is neatly and cleanly routed and tie-wrapped. Rugged, fiber-reinforced ABS resin main blades are fitted to the grips, identical to those on the X3V but with different (and somewhat tacky looking) foil decals hiding the lightening holes.
Tacky or not, the labels on top and clear tape below serve to increase the lift of the blades. Removing the labels will greatly reduce the lift capabilities.
Speaking of foil decals, there are numerous foil stickers applied on most of the individual components. These are quality control stickers, placed on the model by Max Ettinger himself during the course of the fifty-step QC process.
The canopy is the basically the same one fitted to the X3V, with "X3" decals and all. The X3V's canopy has been modified to clear the bottom-mounted motor with a cut out area and elastic retainer band. No need for such a mod on the X3. Both are made of polycarbonate, somewhat thicker than others I've seen; it too had an inspection sticker inside. My guess is that the plug used to vacuform the halves of the canopy is made of fiberglass and not too well finished since impressions of what looks like fiberglass cloth is evident all over the finished canopy.
What's more, the decals are a matter of taste and I'm personally not crazy about them. They're OK and to their credit look pretty good in the air, but they impart a slightly cheap look to the model when it's on the ground. The decals on the blades are no help and I'm convinced Skyartec can do better. The differences in each model, short of the canopy, is easily seen:
As for the transmitter, it's identical to the one sent with the X3V. It's a seven-channel park flyer unit which can be configured for airplanes or helicopters via the enclosed PC software. Park RC Models attaches a great many warning and instruction labels to their models; the one on the transmitter warned against using the toggle switches.
The advice is actually good for beginners since the switch on the right engages the idle up feature when flicked downward, itself not fully configured as I learned when trying to use it later. Even experienced helicopter pilots would do well to heed that warning, at least until the programming is properly calibrated via a PC.
The switch on the left is the throttle hold which engages with a downward flick of its own. It's good for autorotation landings and, of course, keeping the throttle from accidently coming up.
There's a charging jack out back, but the manual makes no mention of it. Max informed me that the jack was disabled at the factory, a decision I thought was rather unusual, if not counterproductive. My understanding is there is no charging circuitry at all. As for what appears to be a 2.4GHz RF module and is identified as such in the factory manual, it's just an empty case filling the gap in what would have indeed been a receptacle for an RF module.
As for the DIN receptacle, it's used with the programming and flight sim functions. I learned that a wireless buddy box system is built into the transmitters, but accessing it requires two Skyartec transmitters.
In comparison to other 2.4GHz systems, the SKY-706 uses eight AA-cell batteries instead of four. If one wished to go the ni-cad or li-po route, the battery holder is easily unplugged and a suitable pack can be put in its place. It would simply have to be charged outside the transmitter. Use of the recommended Duracell brand batteries should be good for several weeks of very active flying.
Here are a few screen caps of the programming software:
Once the transmitter is switched on and the battery connected, the ESC goes through a series of tones, beginning with eight measures of "Oh, Susanna."
Experience with a similar set of tones on another ESC of mine indicates a countdown to programming mode, but Max assured me that there was virtually no chance of accidently reprogramming the ESC via the transmitter. The X3V goes through the same set of tones, by the way. He also recommended that "Oh, Susanna" play out to give the gyro time to initialize, but the gyro's LED goes from flicker to solid red and the servos line up very quickly.
The ESC can, in fact, be reprogrammed through a Skyartec programming card, but it isn't necessary since the ESC is so well matched to this application.
Once the canopy is in place, the X3 is ready to go.
I'd already flown the X3V and I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect with the X3 during its first indoor hover test. The electronics are well matched to the application; the rotors came up to speed with the same velvety smooth whir as those of the X3V.
Where the X3V hovered hands off at the minimum agility setting, the X3 needed a bit more of a hands-on approach. Like virtually all CCPM choppers, the X3 required some stick input to maintain a hover once I'd cleared the ground effects. The three-axis gyro made it feel like a much larger machine, but the comparatively small mass made hovering a bit more of a delicate operation.
The stability of the tail was excellent; it needed virtually no input to maintain heading and some quick flicks of the rudder stick produced no bounce.
My first attempt at fast forward flight and the model's video shoot were at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club out on its combination control line, park flyer and helicopter pad. Both the X3 and X3V were along for the ride, but videographer George Muir had to cancel until the following weekend. No matter.
I was determined to get the X3 in the air and once the wind died down, I was at the helipad getting the Wasp ready to go.
Once the X3 cleared the ground and the ground effects, it hovered in the breeze more like something along the lines of a 400. Some forward cyclic later, off she went.
Oh, what a sweetheart this "baby Wasp" proved to be. I was immediately comfortable with the model and put it through a few high-speed blasts around the pad. Not only were high- and low-speed, low-altitude passes as easy as could be, so were higher altitude maneuvers, including a couple of pirouettes and really deep banked turns, bringing with it the marvelous sound of the blade tips flirting with supersonic speed. It pirouetted well if a bit slow for my taste; I was used to the quicker response of my HK 450TT Pro and E-flite Blade 400. This to me represents a good thing; the airframe and gyro are a lot less likely to be overwhelmed by excessively fast rotation.
Speaking of excessively fast: I'd tried the idle up function on the X3V prior to taking up the X3 and I was ready for pretty much anything. I'd increased the electronic agility setting on that model and the effect it had on the idle up was dramatic. I later learned that Park Flyer RC doesn't calibrate the idle up function.
I tried the same thing with the X3, again expecting the worst...
Not only did the motor speed increase as expected, but so to did the collective, sending the X3 rocketing into the desert sky. Bringing the stick back sent it rocketing back toward the helipad, but I found the neutral after a few harrowing moments and flicked the switch back to standard mode.
Powered landings were nearly as accurate as those of the X3V and after a bit of practice, I had the X3 settling down smack dab on the "H" on the small landing circle to my right. A bit of a breeze prevented me from repeating the feat during the video shoot, but I'd expected spot-landing a small model like the X3 in a breeze wouldn't be easy.
A weird little radio glitch reared its head on the next indoor just-for-fun flight. Everything worked pretty well except for the collective. It had developed a sort of mind of its own, climbing and descending with no stick input. I wound up having to chop the power at one point to let it fall into my sofa sectional.
After e-mailing Max with the news, he suggested rebinding the radio and receiver, a simple task and one which doesn't require a binding plug for the receiver. There's a binding button on one end of the receiver. That seemed to help. The collective was still a bit twitchy, but nowhere like before.
When I returned the following weekend with both Wasps in tow for the video shoot, the X3's collective seemed to be OK with that marvelous, easily controlled transition to fast forward flight I'd enjoyed the weekend before. Some bounce in hover was evident, but most of it felt as if it were caused by the breeze. Once it was off and running, the weirdness disappeared.
As evidenced by the still frames in the photo gallery, the Wasp presents itself beautifully in the air, far better than I would have originally guessed by the somewhat muted colors of the canopy decals.
Subsequent flights brought out the collective gremlins once more, but another e-mail from Max which suggested reducing the sensitivity of the aileron setting on the gyro might prove to help since the gyro might have been overcompensating.
It did. Once I'd turned the pot just under a quarter turn to the left, the problem disappeared and the solid hover was back.
I'll tell you this: A three-axis gyro on a traditional flybar setup works great on small machines like the Wasps.
Although this model can probably be flown by a raw beginner under supervision and with the optional training skids fitted, a beginner determined to learn to fly a CCPM helicopter might experience better success with the X3V than with the X3. Its smaller size means less mass and therefore more sensitive control. The X3V has overcome that to more of a degree with its hyper-stable flybarless design which can be destabilized with little more than a twist of a small screwdriver. The ClearView SE flight simulator is an excellent learning aid when it comes to learning basic control and orientation, but the proprietary radio system gives up "buddy box" capability in lieu of the flight sim.
If price isn't an issue, a beginner should consider spending the extra forty bucks for the X3V. An intermediate or an advanced flier comfortable with a high-performance flybar setup who might not be ready to take the flybarless plunge will be extremely satisfied with the X3. I speak from the unusual viewpoint of having both machines and I honestly like this helicopter.
No matter which choice a beginner - or any pilot - makes, there's an issue of setup, maintenance and repair. This is a very small and very precise machine and the manual really fails to make that distinction when it comes to cyclic linkage lengths and setup of the tail servo. This is where the careful presale check by Max Ettinger comes in handy. Max has painstakingly measured the linkages for the best possible outcome and that's where an electronic caliper comes in handy for the end user. Measuring the cyclic linkages and the distance between the forward tail servo bracket and the rear of the frame will prove absolutely invaluable when the model has to come apart for any reason.
Of course, one can always contact Max to overcome any problems with getting a repaired heli airborne once more.
(In the interest of simplicity, I've reproduced the section in the X3V review dealing with this wonderful little flight simulator since the bundle is identical. Enjoy.)
One of the better value-added bonuses to come along in any RTF is the CD-ROM packed with the X3V. Not only does it have the software allowing a pilot to adjust the transmitter as necessary but it has a special edition of an excellent flight simulator as well.
A special version of ClearView SE and extra-cost models are available online, but Park RC Models has come through with an incredible bargain. Max worked out a deal with the creators allowing him to bundle the free version of ClearView SE (the full featured ClearView is sold on the ClearView's website for US$39.95) with three ClearView SE-only models valued at US$3.99 each. The models are of an E-flite Apprentice, a Twister Coast Guard coaxial helicopter and a Peugeot rally car, all of which are excellent tools for practicing the basics of radio control. Mastering more advanced concepts including 3D flying simply involves the purchase of the proper models.
The only hitches are the system requirements if one is using an older machine and the fact that none of the programs will run on a Mac without first installing a Windows emulator. Older PCs will benefit from good old Flying Model Simulator which is a popular if older freeware system but with the benefit of a lot of supplied models.
ClearView SE is incredibly graphics intensive and my older 17" Gateway laptop with its Intel Centrino Duo processor, Windows XP, fully updated drivers and expanded RAM wasn't up to the task. What's more, my iMac doesn't have a Windows emulator.
Enter the folks at DA Computers in beautiful Palm Springs, California. The crew at DA had recently serviced the Gateway and I'd told them of the problems I was having with the simulator when I'd first dropped it off. Bring it in, they said and bring it I did.
They pored over the tech specs on the ClearView home page and went through the entire operating system. They verified that I did indeed have all the latest Intel drivers and the newest version of Java. Problem: The graphics card simply wasn't up to the task and since it's an integral part of the motherboard, it can't be replaced as a discrete unit.
I wanted to see it run (as did the techs) and so the program was uploaded into a business-class tower with a somewhat more powerful video card.
Ah, now we had something! The controller wasn't hooked up, but the photo-realistic meadow and 1/10-scale Peugeot which appeared when the program was started were utterly gorgeous in their high-definition depth and detail. From there, it was onto a flight demo featuring a beautifully rendered profile foamie flying a pattern inside a gym. The details rivaled any commercial simulator, but even that big tower had to struggle to keep up with the task of panning the background in sync with the airplane.
I honestly have to say that while Max was very enthusiastic about ClearView SE, I certainly wasn't expecting a free sim to rival a $200 commercial sim, but it did. A gamer with a heavily graphics-oriented machine should have no trouble gettng the sim up and running.
These are the minimum system requirements to get this great simulator roaring across your screen:
Enjoy some screen caps in the meantime:
At $220 with free shipping and no sales tax outside of Michigan, the well-built and well-optioned Skyartec Wasp X3 is more than worthy of a look. The one-on-one customer support you receive from Park RC Models both before and after the sale combined with a full line of very affordable replacement parts places this small distributor smack dab in the realm of the biggest distributors in the country. Max Ettinger not only has Skyartec's undivided attention when it comes to ongoing quality control and updates, he likely knows more about this helicopter than those who designed it. Skyartec has spent a great deal of R&D on improving their products over the years and the X3 shows it.
It becomes even more of a bargain when compared to the $280 Blade 130 X sub-micro. Sure, it's flybarless...but there's no radio, no charger, nothing but the helicopter. Mind you, I speak of this as a longtime Horizon Hobby fan and customer, but that's a lot of bread for such a small and comparatively spindly package in my opinion.
There isn't a lot of price difference between the X3 and X3V, but that difference can be put to use for items like a case, extra blades and especially a couple of extra flight batteries. It's an excellent choice for sport flyers and as one's budget allows, it can be upgraded to the same flybarless head and gyro found on the X3V.
Why then would I give the X3 a very enthusiastic two thumbs way up? Why not just pop for the X3V?
Simple. It's both a bargain when compared to certain machines and a darn good machine in its own right even when compared with the X3V. It's of fine overall quality, flies beautifully and does a great imitation of a larger helicopter. A hobbyist on a budget wouldn't be sorry for not spending the extra cash on the X3V, especially if one comes away with a few extras like batteries or a case for the difference in price.
Thanks must begin with some for Max Ettinger, almost more than I can express. The level of customer service he provides is simply beyond world-class and this proud veteran will work hard to make you a valued customer. He went above and beyond the call of duty with his phone and e-mail communications, treating me the way he would treat any customer. He's a true asset to the hobby and someone with whom I hope to work again with very soon.
George Muir, the videographer and photographer for the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club was a godsend. He worked hard to provide both video as well as stills and I cannot thank him enough. George helped me with a project for the AMA and it was a real privilege to work with him again.
Lots of kudos are due the crew of DA Computers in Palm Springs. Thanks to them, my old Gateway is back in like-new working order. Even though they weren't able to get the ClearView SE sim to run on it, the were beyond generous in taking time out of their schedule to run the program on one of their own machines.
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Of course, no review is ever complete without you and our millions of readers worldwide. You're why we roll the way we do here at RCGroups and all of us thank you for your support. Enjoy your stay and we'll see you at the field!
Many of the great advantages of the X3V can be found in the X3:
There are a few minuses, but only a few, again much like the X3V:
Sky 706 charging jack
Ralph mentions in his review (and also the X3V review) that the charging jack is disabled on the Sky706tx by the factory.
All I can say is that mine works on both my Sky and NASA tx's. So if you have one and want to use rechargeable batteries give it a try. However, the Skyartec tx's are very easy on batteries and they last for a long time.
Try turning both dials completely COUNTER CLOCKWISE until they stop then turn back clockwise only so that the dials are pointing to about 2:00 oclock position (maybe about 1/8 turn clockwise)
Wasp X3 TX rechargeable batter question
A quick question. I just got the rechargeable battery for the WASP TX. I plugged it and it works but is almost out of charge, but I'm apprehensive about plugging the power adaptor which comes with the helicopter into the jack socket in the TX. The plug fits and the socket is marked as a charging point but I've been unable to find any instructions to verify that I don't need a separate charger like the one used to charge the RX battery. Has anyone else bought the battery and successfully charged it?
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