Super Heli In A Super Combo
Align has become the behemoth of RC heli manufacturers, encompassing a full line of helicopters from the tiny Align 100, to the huge Align 700E. The Align 500E sits right in the middle of the size spectrum, sporting 425mm long blades, and having a weight that is roughly double that of a 450-size helicopter. For those who learned on 450-size helicopters, the T-Rex 500 is a nice step up in size, while not being overly expensive or intimidating. As a matter of fact, two similar 3S packs which would normally power a 450-size helicopter can be wired in series and used on the T-Rex 500E, making the 500E a logical upgrade from a 450 for an aspiring helicopter pilot.
Although the Align 500-size class has been around for a few years, theyve made outfitting it a lot easier by offering the 500E Super Combo. The Super Combo includes the motor, speed control, four servos, and a tail gyro, eliminating a lot of the guesswork in choosing proper components. Also included are a nice pair of Align 425mm carbon fiber blades. All thats needed to complete the kit are a suitable transmitter and receiver and a 6S 2,200-3,000mAh LiPo battery with suitable battery connectors.
The main rotor head is a mix of plastic and aluminum, with the center head block, washout base, and swashplate being all aluminum, while the main grips and mixing arms are reinforced plastic. The use of plastic gives up a little bit on the ˜bling factor, but the plastic used is high-quality with very little flex and it keeps weight and cost down.
The same goes for the tail rotor assembly and tail housing. The center tail rotor hub is steel, while the grips and the tail housing are plastic. The plastic components keep the tail from being overly heavy, reducing the chance of having to add nose weight to get the helicopter to balance properly.
The included main blades are constructed out of carbon fiber and are 425mm long. The finish is flawless and they are extremely stiff, making them perfect for the 500E. The paddles are hollowed out plastic to reduce weight and increase cyclic authority, with holographic stickers used to cover up the structure.
The tail rotor is belt driven via metal timing pulleys and rubber timing belt. A countergear assembly keeps the tail driven during autorotation. The 500MX motor bolts to a metal motor mount which sits low in the chassis. There is quite a bit of room underneath the main gear, between the side frames just aft of the motor. I found this to be a good place to mount the receiver and hide all the wires for a neat installation.
The main chassis is constructed of carbon fiber side frames and separated by plastic spacers. Hex screws requiring a 1.5mm driver hold everything together. The three servos that control the swashplate are all mounted high on the frame, and have a single direct linkage for minimal slop. The battery is also situated high, keeping the CG of the 500E close to the main rotor, which makes flips quicker and more axial.
The 500MX motor is Aligns second generation motor for their 500-size helicopters. It has increased power and torque over the past version and can hold its own against most aftermarket motors. The Align BL-70G 70A speed control is an upgraded version of their previous 60A ESC, with improved power handling and easy setup. It includes a governor mode specifically for helicopters, which will regulate the throttle to maintain a consistent RPM throughout the flight.
The three DS510 servos that are included are meant for the swashplate. They are ˜mini sized, and have digital circuitry to improve accuracy and holding power. They also feature an aluminum heatsink to help keep them cool during hard maneuvers. With 53.9 oz-in of torque and a speed of .11 sec/60 deg @ 6V, the DS510 servos are amazingly powerful for a mini size servo.
The DS520 tail servo also has a metal heatsink, and mounts onto the tailboom with the included brackets. The tail servo is driven by Aligns GP780 heading-lock gyro. It supports both digital and analog servos, and mounts on top of the front tailboom clamp with the included foam tape.
Topping everything off is a beautifully finished canopy in red, white, and blue. I love the fact that the paint scheme matches my 700Es canopy exactly, so the 500E looks like my 700Es little brother! For this review, Align also sent us their new 500-size canopy with a wild green, yellow, black and white paint scheme, (seen in the photos).
NEED TO KNOW
HELICOPTER: T-Rex 500E
DISTRIBUTOR: Assurance R/C
TYPE: Mid-size electric helicopter
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
Authors Opinion: The T-Rex 500E is a nice flying helicopter that flies big and easy to see, yet is small enough to be flown in fields where larger helicopters run out of room. Its a nice step up in size from a 450-size helicopter which a lot of people tend to learn on. The fit and finish of the parts are excellent, and the included electronics worked very well. It is nice that the servos, gyro, motor and ESC are included, taking the œshopping list work out of owning a heli.
Online Bonus Content: www.helipilotonline.com/061109
1. Carbon fiber 425mm main blades
2. Single linkage between swash servos and swashplate for minimal parts and reduced wear points
3. Align 500MX motor
4. Align BL-70G 70A speed control
5. Hollowed out paddles for fast cyclic rates
6. Align GP-780 gyro, installs behind the main rotor
7. Tailboom-mounted servo for direct control of tail rotor pitch
8. Carbon fiber tailfins
9. Belt-driven tail rotor
10. Split drive main gear keeps the tail rotor driven during autorotations
IN THE AIR
The T-Rex 500E doesnt come with batteries in the kit, so youll need to source them yourself. For this review, MaxAmps was kind enough to provide the 6S 2250mAh LiPo battery. They are rated up to an astonishing 100C because of their very low internal resistance. These batteries are very light. To get the 500E balanced correctly, I had to mount them to the very front of the battery tray.
I followed the manuals recommend throttle curves for the first setup flights. This provided a rotor rpm of approximately 2,300rpm. At that speed, the collective and cyclic control is good, but not overly sensitive. This is a good speed for hovering maneuvers and moderate speed forward flight. Even on a gusty spring day, I had no problem holding the 500E in a stationary hover. With the 2250mAh battery packs, the 500E had flight times of 5-7 minutes at this rotor speed.
In fast forward or backward flight, the 500E tracks very well, with only a hint of back pressure on the elevator stick to keep it going straight. In loops and rolls, the 500E behaves nicely, with very few corrections needed through the maneuvers.
At the recommended 3D throttle curve which was 100 percent throughout the pitch range, the rpm jumps to over 2,800rpm! At this speed, the rotor head is screaming (figuratively, not literally!), and the cyclic and collective control is instantaneous. I added in 20 percent of exponential to keep the heli in check around mid-stick. With the MaxAmps 2250mAh battery, the 500E is relatively light. This makes pitch pumping maneuvers effortless with almost no decay in rotor rpm; a testament to the 100C rating of the batteries.
At 2,800rpm, the current draw is relatively high, so flights last only three to four minutes. For those looking for longer 3D flights, batteries up to 3000mAH in capacity will fit under the canopy, and will increase hard 3D flights to around five to six minutes. For those flying more sedately and at lower head speeds, it can increase flight time to as much as 10 minutes.
|JR 9503 2.4 GHz transmitter|
|Spektrum 6100E 6-channel receiver|
|MaxAmps.com 6S 2200mAh 100C LiPo|
FLYING WEIGHT: 3.75 lbs.
LENGTH: 33 in.
ROTOR SPAN: 38 in.
ROTOR DISC AREA: 1,145 sq. in.
ROTOR DISC LOADING: 7.53 oz./sq. ft.
RADIO: 6 channels required; flown with JR 9503 2.4 GHz transmitter, Spektrum 6100E 6-channel receiver
SERVOS AND GYRO: The kit includes three Align DS510 digital mini servos for the swashplate, Align DS520 tail servo, and an Align GP780 heading lock gyro
HOVER POWER: 13 amps, 311 watts; 5.18 W/oz., 83 W/lb.
|Align 500MX motor|
|Align DS510 digital mini servos|
|Align DS520 tail servo|
|Align GP780 heading lock gyro|
|Align BL-70G 70A speed control|
MAIN ROTOR RPM AT HOVER: 2,300
POWER SYSTEM: Align 500MX motor with Align BL-70G 70A speed control, MaxAmps.com 6S 2250mAh 100C LiPo
DURATION: 4-10 min, depending on flying style and battery capacity
MINIMUM FLYING AREA: Small field
COMPONENTS NEEDED TO COMPLETE: Transmitter, receiver, flight battery
¢ The 500E uses a lot of small hardware. Invest in a good 1.5mm hardened hex driver as well as a set of JIS cross point screwdrivers. It will keep you from stripping out the heads of the screws.
¢ Because the 500E is belt driven, theres a chance for the belt to produce static in dry weather. Avoid this issue by applying static spray to the belt or by grounding the two metal tail pulleys to each other. Grounding was covered in a past issue of RC Heli Pilot.
¢ Removing the bottom frame spacer and landing gear during the electronics install makes tidying up all the wiring and electronics a lot easier and leaves a much neater installation.
¢ The front and rear boom clamps and the boom support clamps slipped on the slick tail boom even with the screws fully tightened. To keep it from slipping, I glued a small patch of 220 grit sandpaper to the inside of each of the clamps. This prevented the tailboom from moving once everything was tightened up.
¢ The 500E came with some items partially pre-assembled. Spend the time to disassemble to add grease or thread-lock as necessary and to verify that all the fasteners are tight.
¢ Dont forget to lubricate the moving parts periodically, especially ball bearings subject to high RPMs such as the motor and tail rotor bearings.
THE FINAL SAY
Align keeps pumping winners out of the factory and the T-Rex 500E is no different. It handles every maneuver that I threw at it, and didnt break a sweat. It is a good size which makes it very easy to track through the sky and the extra mass over a smaller helicopter carries it through maneuvers much easier. The 500E Super Combo is definitely worth consideration if youre looking for a high-power mid-size helicopter.
JR, distributed exclusively by Horizon Hobby Distributors
www.jrradios.com, (800) 338-4639
www.maxamps.com, (888) 654-4450
Spektrum, distributed by Horizon Hobby
www.spektrumrc.com, (800) 338-4639