Giant Fun In A Compact Package
I love to fly larger glow-power helicopters but being very busy I cannot always get to a flying field. I used to shy away from the smaller œmicro electric helis because the flying characteristics were very different from their larger-scale counterparts, especially with fixed-pitch models. Blade however, has done an amazing job producing a series of helicopters that perform like larger glow models and the 120 SR is no exception. It is great to be able to take a break from work or from the œhoney-do list at home to get some flying time in no matter what the weather conditions are like outside.
At first glance the Blade 120 SR is a pod and boom style helicopter with an attractive color scheme that is easy to see in flight. The heli is completely assembled and ready to fly right out of the box. All you need to do is charge the 1S 3.7V 500mAh 12C LiPo battery with the included E-flite charger and bind it to a Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM2 compatible transmitter. The 120 SR comes in two versions, bind-n-fly (BNF) and ready-to-fly (RTF). The unit I am reviewing is a BNF version and I chose my new Spektrum DX8 transmitter to control this bird.
The Blade 120 SR BNF version comes with everything you need including the flight battery and charger. Just supply your transmitter and fly!
Construction of the new Blade 120 SR is very similar to the smaller mSR, consisting of a carbon fiber tail boom, flexible crash-resistant landing struts, a strong one piece main frame, and pre-painted polycarbonate canopy with a tinted window. The tail rotor is powered by a small brushed motor connected to a fixed-pitch rotor blade. The main rotor is also powered by a brushed motor. The rotor head on the 120 SR has a 45- degree flybar giving the same self-corrective qualities expected from a micro coaxial heli. This flybar design is what gives 120 SR its incredible hovering stability. While this increased stability is excellent for a beginning heli pilot, the self-corrective nature of this stabilization system can take some getting used to for a more advanced heli pilot.
The rotor head features a dual-position swashplate with a second, longer set of connector balls on the upper half of the swashplate. You can gain more control throw and increased cyclic performance by moving the linkages from the shorter ball arms to the longer ones.
The heart of the 120 SR is the new 5-in-1 control board. The board contains the electronic speed control (ESC) for both the main and tail motor as well as a gyro which functions to seamlessly increase the tail rotor rpm to counteract the torque from the main rotor as it speeds up. A mixing function is included on the board to allow the Blade 120 SR to be flown from a standard airplane-mode transmitter. You do not need a special helicopter radio to fly this model. The Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM2-compatible receiver is also built onto this control board. Lastly, two micro linear servos are installed on the control board to control the cyclic functions on the swashplate. The control board is located at the rear of the heli just behind the main mast and is protected by a plastic cover to lessen the chances of damage in the event of a crash.
The 5-in-1 control board contains the two linear servos, gyro, the main and tail motor ESC, mixing functions, and the Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM2-compatble receiver. The additional set of balls on the upper swashplate can be used for more aggressive flying.
Included in the box is an E-flite Celectra LiPo charger capable of charge rates from .1 to .7 amps. The battery is an E-flite 1S 3.7V 500mAh 12C LiPo pack with a JST connector. The charger uses a micro power connector, so they included a micro-to-JST adapter with the kit.
The Blade 120 SR is an amazing little heli that will give you hours of enjoyment whether practicing your hovering skills in your living room or in all out high speed flight outdoors. The durability of this machine makes it a great choice for the beginning heli pilot. While you wont be doing any inverted flight with a fixed-pitch heli, there is no shortage of fun to be had flying pirouettes, figure eights, and a host of other maneuvers. For less than $150 for the BNF version, you can have endless heli flying fun for a small fraction of the cost of a bigger glow machine.
The 120 SR is a blast to fly! Its added size and mass provides more stability and performance especially when flying outdoors. While I had a lot of fun flying the 120 SR around my house, to really appreciate its full potential you need to fly outdoors or in a large indoor space like a gymnasium. The motors are very powerful and applying full throttle can result in the heli lifting to 100 feet in a matter of seconds.
As with all fixed-pitch rotor helicopters, there is a tiny bit of lag when transitioning from a stable hover to a high rate climb. This might not be as noticeable to a newbie pilot as it would to a pilot who is used to a collective pitch helicopter. The offset flybar does make this heli very stable. I lent the controls to my 8-year old son who has never flown a heli before other than on a simulator, and he was able to keep a steady hover in no time. Notice I said œlent , which implies that I would get it back. That remains to be seen.
Once I muscled the transmitter back from my son (for now?), I began to test the SR 120 forward high speed flight performance. Again I was amazed by the flight characteristics of this little heli. There was a slight tendency to see increased lift on the left side during fast forward flight, but again, nothing that a new or inexperienced pilot would notice. For the experienced pilot with a computer radio, you can add some mixing to eliminate this.
The 120 SR scoots along with authority and is very responsive to the controls. The wind started to pickup to about 8 knots which did not seem to affect the flight performance at all. There was the occasional increase in lift as a burst of wind blew over the rotor blades, but as long as I was aware of it, it did not affect the fun I was having.
After about 8 minutes the battery started to deplete and even with full throttle applied I was losing altitude. Upon landing I inspected the battery and it felt warm but not enough to cause me worry. I did set a timer on my transmitter to 6 minutes for future flights so I can have the opportunity to recharge while the battery is cooler.
At this point I probably have two dozen flights on the 120 SR with 2 minor crashes, each time into the grass. The first crash was from about 30 feet with my son at the controls, and even after piling right into the grass, there was no damage. After just a quick inspection we were right back into the air. Again this is an awesome helicopter for a beginner.
Blade Helicopters, distributed by Horizon Hobby, www.bladehelis.com , (800) 338-4639
Spektrum, distributed by Horizon Hobby, www.spektrumrc.com , (800) 338-4639