E-flite is well known in the electric aircraft arena for its many high-quality, great flying airplanes and helicopters. The Blade 400 3D follows that pattern. It is designed for intermediate and advanced pilots looking for a highly capable compact helicopter that they can fly almost anywhere. This is a high performance helicopter that can do more advanced maneuvers such as fast forward flight, loops, rolls, fly inverted as well as many gravity-defying 3D maneuvers.
E-flite has taken all the guesswork out of configuring and setting up a helicopter by providing everything youll need to get into the air. Open the box and remove the Styrofoam top shell, and you see a fully assembled helicopter. Every helicopter is test-flown prior to being shipped, so you can be assured that it is properly set up and ready to fly. Youll need only to install the 4 included AA transmitter batteries and charge the 3s 1800mAh LiPo pack with the included DC balancing charger.
The heli is extremely well-built. All the wires are neatly zip-tied and tucked away to improve the helis looks and ensure that they do not get caught in any moving components. The rotor head has CCPM control; this reduces the number of parts and makes the heli lighter and more precise. The tail rotor is belt-driven, and a direct linkage transfers motion from the tail servo to the tail-rotor blades. The Blade also includes a one-way bearing that facilitates autorotation. During autorotations, the tail is driven to allow yaw control on the way down.
A number of features really set this helicopter apart from other ready-to-fly setups. Instead of including a radio system with limited functionality, E-flite includes the new Spektrum DX6i 2.4GHz radio and AR6100E receiver. With 2.4GHz technology, you wont have to worry about radio glitching or being shot down by somebody else on your frequency. This is a huge advantage, especially for a heli of this size, since a lot of fliers wont be at a frequency-controlled site such as a dedicated AMA flying field.
The DX6i itself has programming options for airplanes and helicopters and a 10-model memory. Program it by using the graphical display on the bottom of the transmitter and a very intuitive rolling wheel (similar to those on higher-end radios). As far as transmitters in ready-to-fly aircraft go, the DX6i is miles ahead of anything else Ive seen.
HELICOPTER: Blade 400 3D
If you have stick time on a smaller coaxial or microhelicopter and are looking for something bigger and more capable, give the E-flite Blade 400 a try. It includes everything you need to get airborne, including a LiPo battery and a charger. It is assembled, set up, and test-flown at the factory, so youll know that you have an aircraft that flies well the second you open the box. The brushless motor offers high performance and durability, and the Spektrum DX6i 2.4GHz radio is the icing on the cake. Youll never have to worry about frequency conflicts and youll have a programming capability for up to 10 models. This heli has an awesome performance-to-cost ratio!
Wanting to test E-flites claims, I did the minimum necessary to get the Blade into the air. I installed the 4 AA alkaline batteries in the transmitter and put the LiPo battery on charge. When that was complete, I attached the battery to the heli with the Velcro strap. Before I made the battery/speed-control connection, I turned on the transmitter and enabled throttle hold. This is a good safety procedure and will prevent you from accidentally starting the motor if the throttle stick is moved.
Time to fly! Advancing the collective slowly, I took the Blade up into a stable hover. I was so surprised by how well it maintained the hover! Blade tracking was spot-on, and I didnt have to touch the trims. This is a testament to E-flites excellent factory setup.
While still in the normal pitch curve, I pushed the collective all the way forward. The Blade climbed with authoritymuch more aggressively than any ready-to-fly coaxial or micro-heli, so be ready for this. Most pilots will find the pitch and throttle curves are a good starting setup. During my climb out, I could hear the rotor-head speed increasing slightly, as would be expected in a normal flight mode. Feel free to fine tune the curves as you prefer. It is very easy to adjust the DX6i programming to your liking.
Switching into stunt mode, the head speed noticeably increases and the power stays on throughout the full pitch range and allows inverted and 3D flight. The Blade is just as happy hovering inverted as it is upright. Granted, you have to make all the right moves in your head, but if you can do it, the Blade is happy to oblige. In forward flight, it tracks as well as any other helicopter in its class, and most of them typically cost about twice as much!
It has plenty of power for rolls, loops, stationary flips and pretty much any other 3D maneuver you can imagine. Whether in basic hovering or 3D flight, the heading-hold gyro does a good job of keeping the tail in check.
With the included wooden blades, I tried a few autorotations from about 3 feet up. Like most other helis in this size class, the Blade 400s head speed decays pretty quickly, and you need to get your timing just right to get a smooth landing. The tail is still driven by the main rotor when the motor power is cut, so yaw control still exists as long as the main blades are turning.
| Another thing that sets the Blade 400 apart is its electronics package. The brushless motor and speed control will have a virtually infinite life, as there are no brushes to wear out. Those of you who are moving up from ready-to-fly coaxials or micro-helis are in for a surprise when you push that left stick all the way forwards. The Blade 400 3D has gobs of power. The DS75H digital servos have great centering and holding power, and they produce a great connected feeling between the transmitter and the heli. The heading-hold gyro is also a great addition; it reduces the pilots workload during all maneuvers from basic hovering to advanced 3D.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Buy extra battery packs. After youve enjoyed your first flight with the Blade 400 3D, youll want to fly again â€¦ and again. The included balancing charger is fairly basic, but it does exactly what its supposed to do: charge the supplied battery in about an hour. By having extra packs ready, youll be able to fly again without having to wait for a battery to charge.
The transmission power of the DX6i comes set to the lower European Union (EU) level. If youre in the United States, you can increase it to the U.S. power level. You probably wont have any problems with the Blade 400 at either level, but the U.S. power level will give you better range and security, especially if you decide to reuse the DX6i in a larger model.
Another tip for those who are new to 2.4GHz technology is that the signal is strongest off the sides of the antenna and weakest off the tip. Ive found that by bending the joint in the antenna so that the antenna is parallel with the control sticks, it provides the best range during the range-check tests when holding the transmitter normally and having the model in front of me. Again, this shouldnt be a problem either way with the Blade, but it doesnt hurt to have the optimum setup.
|The Blade 400 3D RTF comes completely assembled with all the components installed. The E-flite 420H outrunner provides great power for this nimble flyer.
|The Spektrum DX6i radio comes pre-programmed and ready to fly. This DSM2 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio promises glitch-free operation without concern for other radios that may be operating nearby.
What can I say? This is a fantastic heli, and that it is all ready to fly out of the box makes it that much better. It can be almost anything you want it to beeverything from a hovering trainer to a 3D aerobat. The excellent DX6i radio package offers great long-term value, as it can be used with many other models. This is easily one of the best readyto- fly packages out there!
|The Blade 400 features a belt drive tail rotor for crisp yaw control during even the most violent maneuvers.
E-flite, distributed exclusively by Horizon Hobby Distributors, www.horizonhobby.com, (877) 504-0233