Extreme 3D Performance, Right Out of the Box!
Blade’s line of helicopters has introduced countless thousands of people into the world of RC helicopters. The 450 X is their most advanced 450-size helicopter yet. Targeted towards intermediate and advanced pilots, it has a number of innovations that deserve attention.
Blade has raised the bar when it comes to ready to fly, flybarless helicopters. The 450 X includes pro-grade BeastX flybarless technology integrated with Spektrum 2.4 GHz, minimizing the wiring mess associated with having multiple boxes. They’ve also upgraded the mechanics to take advantage of it, such as including carbon fiber blades, powerful 4200kV brushless motor, metal head block, and counter-weighted tail grips. And other than setting parameters in your transmitter, the setup is a breeze as the hard work of building, setting up, and programming the flybarless controller is already done for you. It’s one of the easiest ways to get a hobby grade, flybarless electric helicopter.
NEED TO KNOW
HELICOPTER: 450 X
DISTRIBUTOR: Horizon Hobby
TYPE: Flybarless aerobatic heli
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
PRICE: $499.99 (Bind-N-Fly)
WHAT WE USED
JR 9503 2.4GHz
FLYING WEIGHT: 1lb. 9.3 oz. (717g)
LENGTH: 25.79 in. (655mm)
HEIGHT: 8.78 in. (223mm)
WIDTH: 4.65 in (118mm)
ROTOR SPAN: 28.54 in. (725mm)
ROTOR DISK AREA: 640 sq./in.
TAIL ROTOR DIAMETER: 6.1 in. (155mm)
RADIO: JR 9503 2.4 GHz transmitter, with included Spektrum 7200BX receiver/flybarless controller
SERVOS AND GYRO: Three E-flite DS76 digital sub-micro servos for cyclic (included), E-flite DS76T digital sub-micro servo for tail (included), Integrated BeastX flybarless controller
POWER SYSTEM: Included E-flite 440H 4200Kv brushless motor and E-flite 35A S-BEC ESC
MAIN ROTOR RPM AT HOVER: 2,500
DURATION: 4-6 min, depending on rotor rpm and flying style
MINIMAL FLYING AREA: Baseball diamond or a small park
COMPONENTS NEEDED TO COMPLETE
Spektrum DSM2/DSMX 6+ channel transmitter
Type: Injection molded
Servo linkage type: ECCPM
Grips: Molded plastic with thrust bearings
Head block: Machined aluminum
Links: Plastic with steel rods
Swashplate: Metal inner ring with plastic outer ring, steel balls throughout
Mainshaft: 5mm steel shaft
Drive system: Timing belt drive
Auto Capable: Yes, tail is driven during autorotation
Tail Pitch Slider Type: Brass sleeve with aluminum housing
Tail Blade Grips: Plastic, with dual radial and single thrust bearings
Tail Case: Plastic with ball bearings
Boom Material: Aluminum
Boom strut material: Carbon fiber with plastic ends
• Pro grade flybarless controller, already set up and programmed out of the box
• Lots of metal parts
• Excellent flying qualities
• Manual does not contain dedicated programming settings for JR DSM2/DSMX transmitters
The first and probably the biggest innovation is their use of Spektrum’s new AR7200BX receiver. Its a full range receiver, and includes Spektrum proprietary DSMX technology. For the Blade 450 X application, it requires the use of a DSM2 or DSMX 6-channel or greater transmitter. This includes the Spektrum DX6, DX6i, DX7, DX7SE, DX7s, DX8, JR 9303 and JR 9503 2.4 GHz transmitters. The neatest thing about the AR7200BX is that it includes BeastX flybarless technology integrated into the receiver. I’ve had the pleasure of using the standalone BeastX Microbeast in the past, and I can wholeheartedly say that it will hold its own against any of the top flybarless controllers currently on the market. Having the flybarless controller integrated into the receiver reduced the number of separate control boxes on the helicopter, a nice feature on a relatively small helicopter like the 450 X. It also reduces a lot of wiring that is typical of separate receiver and flybarless controller setups.
Not only has Blade done a nice job of installing the AR7200BX on the helicopter for you, they’ve done the hard work of performing all firmware setup and all the mechanical assembly to go with it. To those who have never installed or set up a flybarless controller before, this can save a new flybarless pilot countless hours of setup and possible frustration.
To go along with the flybarless controller, Blade has a new flybarless rotor head. It consists of a new machined aluminum head block with stiff 80 durometer dampers. The beefy molded blade grips have dual radial ball bearings and a single thrust bearing for great tracking during high head speeds. There is also a new swash follower assembly that keeps the inner ring of the swashplate in phase with the main rotor head.
Rather than the wood blades that have been included with past 450 kits, Blade has recognized that the 450 X is aimed towards more experienced pilots and have included a nice set of carbon fiber rotor blades. The 450 X comes with a new brushless power system. Previous Blade 450’s came with a 3700kV motor, but the 450 X includes E-flite’s 440 helicopter motor rated at 4200kV driven with a 35A brushless speed control. With a higher kV rating, the motor will produce more power, perfect for high-power 3D aerobatics.
The Blade 450 X comes with a 3S 2200mAh LiPo battery with a 30C discharge rating as well as a basic balancing charger. The charger runs off of a 12V DC power supply, but the output is only 1.8 amps, so expect charge times in the order of 60-75 minutes. For faster turnaround between flights, I would recommend extra batteries along with a high-power balancing charger.
For improved tail rotor control, the tail rotor grips are counter-weighted which reduces the amount of force required to change the pitch of the tail rotor blades. The tailboom is aluminum for light weight and high strength. The tail rotor is driven via a timing belt and power originates from a split gear arrangement that keeps the tail rotor turning during an autorotation.
The main frame structure is molded plastic, and appears identical to past Blade 450 helicopters. A full complement of digital servos is included, with three DS76 for swash control and a high-speed DS76T for the tail rotor.
IN THE AIR
I set up my transmitter according to the values shown in the manual. In normal mode, my throttle curve was 0-30-60-60-60, and in a hover my head speed was about 2,600 rpm with a freshly charged battery pack. At this head speed, control authority is nice and crisp. I did add 15-percent expo on all three axes to soften the feeling around center stick, but that’s my own personal preference. For upright forward flight maneuvers, this was a great starting point while still getting relatively long flight times of about eight minutes. With the addition of the BeastX flybarless controller, the Blade 450 X tracks better than any of its predecessors. Forward flight is quick and it will go horizon to horizon with very little corrections needed on the elevator to keep it straight and level.
For hover work, the BeastX also reduces the pilot workload, especially when there is some wind. With the control rates turned down, the Blade 450 X makes an excellent collective pitch training helicopter. However, unlike a co-axial helicopter, there is no self-leveling tendency. Instead, the BeastX will cause the helicopter to do exactly what you tell it to do, nothing more, and nothing less. If you pitch it down 10-degrees, it will stay there until you manually bring it back to level.
In stunt mode my throttle curve was 100-100-100-100-100. This raised the head speed up to about 3,200 rpm. Collective response is much stronger at this speed, though cyclic rates remain constant. This is a benefit of the flybarless controller, as the cyclic feels the same regardless of the rotor head speed. The Blade 450 X is one of the lightest 450-size helicopters around, which makes it excel at fast maneuvers with lots of direction changes. Simple loops and rolls track nice and true. Fast backwards flight was no problem, with the BeastX holding the tail rock solid throughout. In fact, the tail control feels better than any of the past Blade helis that I have flown. A true testament to the effectiveness of the BeastX flybarless controller.
• The manual includes programming settings for popular Spektrum branded DSM transmitters but didn’t include any specific instructions for my JR 9503 radio that I was going to use. No problem, I just used the settings for the DX8 on my 9503 radio and it worked perfectly.
• Be sure to set up your transmitter to the settings in the manual BEFORE you bind the helicopter to the transmitter.
• Be sure to have the throttle at its lowest setting during binding. This will cause the motor to turn off in the odd chance that the signal is lost between the transmitter and the receiver.
• Once the battery is plugged in, leave the heli completely still for about 10 seconds to allow the AR7200BX to initialize.
THE LAST WORD
I really enjoyed flying the Blade 450 X. The fact that you can take it out of the box, and within 60 minutes have a great flying flybarless helicopter is fantastic. I love the fact that nothing on the helicopter itself needed to be tweaked, be it mechanical adjustments or firmware settings. All that’s needed is to do some basic transmitter programming, charge the included battery with the supplied charger, and then bind the transmitter to the heli. For those seeking instant gratification and a great flying helicopter, the Blade 450 X fits the bill.
Words: Tony Yap
Photos: Walter Sidas, Tony Yap