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Written by Dillon Carpenter
Ready for your backyard or racecourse
Product review
As seen in the December 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.





Specifications

Power system: Four 1407-2820 Kv FPV motors; 20-amp four-in-one ESC
FPV equipment: 25, 200, and 600 mW adjustable video transmitter (VTx); 600TVL CMOS FPV camera; 4.3-inch FPV video monitor with DVR
Battery: E-flite Thrust  850 mAh 4S 35C LiPo
Flight duration: 3 to 5 minutes
Price: $499.99


Pluses

• Everything needed is included in the box.
• Comes with two batteries.
• Comes with FPV screen.
• Betaflight OSD.
• Easily accessible VTx buttons.
• 4 mm replaceable carbon-fiber arms.
• Replacement parts available.
• Easily removable propeller guards.


Minuses

• No smart audio.
• Cannot use Spektrum telemetry with included transmitter.
• Propeller tool not included.

The Blade Scimitar 170 FPV RTF 4-inch racer from Horizon Hobby includes nearly everything needed to get in the air with minimal setup required.


Setup

Setting up the drone was a veritable breeze. Nearly everything came preassembled except the propellers, propeller guards, video antenna, antenna tubes, and placing the included batteries into the transmitter.

One notable exclusion was a propeller tool. I would not have been able to attach the propellers had I not had an 8 mm driver available. This would be no problem for an intermediate or advanced pilot to whom this product is marketed, but if an absolute beginner were to purchase this aircraft, he or she would need to make sure to have a suitable tool to tighten the propellers.




The Scimitar 170 comes with everything needed to get into the air, including the transmitter, batteries, charger, and FPV screen.


While installing the propellers, make sure to note the intended direction of each from the manual, because this multirotor is set up with “reversed” direction motor spin, which I prefer, but is less common. After the propellers were installed, the propeller guards seemed difficult to install at first, but were actually simple. There are bushings on the motor bolts that allow the propeller guards to be locked into place.

Using the included charger and charging accessories to charge the two 4S 1,000 mAh LiPo batteries was simple enough after becoming familiar with the included Dynamite Prophet Sport Mini 50W charger.

It should be noted that inclusion of the two 4S 1,000 mAh battery packs differs from what is noted in the manual, which purports to include one 850 mAh and a 1,000 mAh 4S Thrust battery. It also differs from the one 850 mAh 4S Thrust battery that is mentioned on Horizon Hobby’s website product listing under “What’s in the box?”


Maiden Flight

After making the preflight checks to ensure that everything was set up correctly, the hover test went well and it was time for the aircraft’s first FPV flight. Once in the goggles, the on-screen display (OSD) was already preset with battery voltage, received signal strength indication, and, curiously, the pilot name “Bazinga!” Needless to say, I felt as though I was the subject of a pretty clever prank.




The Scimitar 170 is for intermediate to advanced pilots who are looking for a robust and feature-rich 4-inch multirotor experience.


Not having changed any of the pretuned settings, the quad flew well. With only a few minor adjustments to suit my preferences, I had it tuned up and flying great within a few minutes. The aircraft flies well enough without additional tuning, so it is unnecessary to make any other adjustments.


Handling

The quadcopter is lightweight and nimble compared with the more popular 5-inch multirotor class, even with the smaller 1407-2820 Kv FPV motors. The aircraft has a decent amount of thrust-to-weight ratio with the smaller propellers, motors, and weight all considered. Cornering was tight, and speed was gained quickly through straightaways.




Addressable LEDs adorn the back of the aircraft for greater visibility while racing. The color and pattern of the LEDs can be changed within Betaflight to suit a pilot’s preferences.



The Transmitter

As a “thumber,” or one who articulates the sticks with the pads of my thumbs, the included Spektrum DXe feels good in my hand. I usually do not fly with a transmitter strap and the DXe allowed me to continue the habit. It is lightweight and easy to grip.

A detractor for the radio would be the requisite four AA batteries. It would be useful to have a rechargeable and replaceable LiPo battery within the transmitter, but on a lower-tier transmitter, this seems to be the norm.


Tuning and Tweaking

After I had made a few laps using the stock settings, I decided that I wanted to get into the inner workings of the software to tune it more to my liking. I was getting a little bit of propwash oscillation on hard corners and quick maneuvers, and it was slightly “floaty” around the corners, so I wanted to tighten that.

Tuning the quad was easy enough at the field with Betaflight OSD, which allows a pilot to change multiple settings, such as rates, tuning, and VTx settings, with a compatible video transmitter. Unfortunately, the VTx on this product does not have Smart Audio or any means to be able to change settings from Betaflight OSD, but if an upgraded Spektrum radio is used, the pilot can access some settings, such as VTx control, through the radio itself.


The Video System

The Spektrum-branded VTx has 32 channels and three power levels: 25 mW, 200 mW, and 600 mW. It also includes an integrated microphone for those who like to fly FPV with onboard audio. One of the nifty things about this VTx is the use of an MMCX connector as opposed to the traditional ipex/u.fl pigtail or SMA connector. Ipex and u.fl are fragile and were never meant to be repeatedly attached and detached. They require a semipermanent glue or epoxy to secure the connection.




As part of a promotion running when this review was written, the Spektrum headset adapter was included and can be combined with the included FPV monitor to make a full set of FPV goggles.


The MMCX is not much heavier, but has a more secure connection that is meant to be detached and reattached. The connection to the antenna is MMCX to SMA and attaches securely to the side of the aircraft. For more weight reduction, a dipole antenna with an MMCX could be used instead of the included SMA antenna.

The camera is of decent quality, although the canopy needs to be removed or modified to access the camera mount to tighten or loosen the screw that holds the camera angle.


Durability

The durable airframe is made to endure the many spills and crashes that go along with the hobby. The main frame is made out of carbon fiber, with 4 mm arms. The hydro-dipped plastic pod is well protected by the arms and includes removable propeller guards.

A nifty trick for a pilot who wishes to brush up on his or her line-of-sight skills would be to install only the front or rear set of propeller guards. They are bright yellow and visible and would be perfect indicators for orientation in flight.

Broken propellers are rarely an issue with the propeller guards installed, although they add some weight to the aircraft.




The included propeller guards on the Blade Scimitar 170 are bright and could be used to practice line-of-sight training if the front or rear set is removed.



Conclusion

The Blade Scimitar 170 RTF is a durable and capable multirotor with plenty of updated features and plenty of proverbial “bells and whistles.” I would feel confident showing up at a racetrack with this rig and running some decent lap times.

—Dillon Carpenter
dillonc@modelaircraft.org


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Horizon Hobby
(800) 338-4639
www.horizonhobby.com


Sources:

Spektrum
(800) 338-4639
www.spektrumrc.com






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