So… I’ve been flying the 120 SR for quite a few months now and have been getting confident with it. My hovering has been getting pretty good; tail in, 45° each way, nose in and recently I’ve been practising side on. I can also do pretty tidy circuits and just recently started trying nose in circles. Thankfully I’ve not had a crash requiring any spares for quite a while.
This has all been good, but it has got me to thinking that a bigger collective pitch heli is the next step. After a lot of looking around and assessing funds, I decided a 400 size was what I could afford, which left me with two primary candidates; the Blade 450 or the Trex 450. I’ve read a lot about both with a lot of people seemingly strongly in either the Blade or the Trex camp. I eventually went for the Blade because I figured it came ready built, so at first I can concentrate on flying rather than setup, learning the intricacies of heli set-up as I go along and secondly because I have had such a good experience with the 120.
I already have a DX8 which I wanted to bind it to and a good charger so I grabbed the BNF version from the guys at F1 Hobbies who have previously helped me out with spares for the 120 SR. That left me needing some batteries, a couple of guys at my flying club have previously said good things about Flight Power Li-Pos, so I figured I’d give them a shot. Ordering 3 from their webstore in Hong Kong worked out to be about 40 quid, which was about the price of 1 and a half from the UK, they took 2 weeks to get here but I wasn’t in a hurry.
After the batteries arrived I was keen to have a go, I should have waited for the training gear which I had ordered, but was on back order. I took her out into the garden, gently increased the throttle and about 3/4 throttle she began to get light on her skids, it was at this point she started tipping to the right. I countered with an increasing amount of left cyclic but even full left didn’t stop her from going over. Thankfully I quickly hit the throttle hold switch where upon she started slowing down, the tips hitting the grass quite slowly just as the blades stopped spinning. Hmm, this isn’t a great start. EFlite claim to fly these things in the factory, now surely if somebody had flown it they would have noticed the need for a large amount of left cyclic to counter the tendency to go right. Due to other commitments I didn’t get round to investigating for a while so it just sat in its box for a week or so.
It was around this time I stumbled across a forum post about the Flyin Fish helicopter school. Seeing as I’d never flown collective, and my first experience wasn’t too successful I figured an hour lesson couldn’t hurt. £40 is about the same as some moderate repairs was my thinking so probably worth at least one lesson.
7th Octoboer 2011
Time for my FlyinFish lesson! I arrived at the field near Northolt aerodrome where I was met by Mark, one of the instructors. We chatted for a bit about my experience, keen to impress upon him that I’d never flown anything other than a Blade 120! He powered up his 600 class Thunder Tiger and hooked up my TX to his. I won’t go over the entire lesson, but suffice to say it went brilliantly. Within the hour I had managed a couple of very wonky circuits in each direction. The shape of them and my height control was pretty shody, but I definitely got them, Mark only needing to grab control a couple of times when I let her drift a little too close to us for his liking.
If you’ve never flown a RC Helicopter and are in the London area I would completely recommend having at least an hour before you buy anything. Thoroughly recommended.
At the end of the lesson Mark had a go on my 450, he also found it needed an awful lot of left input to keep it straight. Upon inspection he noticed the swash was leaning quite a bit to the right, needing more than full left trim to correct. So off I went home knowing that the servo needing centering and the head realigning to the 90 degrees. I fixed this up that evening in preparation for another go.
8th October 2011
Full of enthusiasm after my lesson of the day before, and now equipped with training gear I went out into the garden and spun her up again, she wasn’t going right any more but even on full throttle she didn’t want to lift off. One thing was clear was that I wanted somewhere bigger and with shorter grass.
9th October 2011
I went out last night to find a large, lit (its dark early at this time of the year!) area of tarmac of similar which would allow the heli to slide around on the training gear. I found a nice big car park of a local retail park, which was completely empty at night but very well lit. So I had a little go, its a brilliant area in which to practice. I found however the same problem as before, even full throttle she is only light on her skids. So I’ve go a problem to solve, I’ve ordered a pitch gauge so I can check the amount of pitch full throttle is giving me. Thats the next step.
I’ve just noticed that I’ve not written much about the 450 for a good while now. I’m not sure where 2012 went, or half of 2013 for that matter. For at least the later half of 2012 I was getting out with the 450 about once a month, putting all four batteries through it each time. In early 2013 I started getting out more often, perhaps once a week. And now we have moved I’m finding I’m flying it about twice a week. My circuits are pretty good now in either direction. Figure of eights are also smooth and even, I’ve got the hang of keeping the altitude roughly equal throughout the manoeuvre. Initially I found it hard to predict how much altitude would be lost when transitioning from fast forward flight to the hover. Now I can predict this and feed in the right amount of collective to maintain height.