Blade 150 FX RTF Helicopter

Blade 150 FX RTF Helicopter

Blade 150 FX RTF Helicopter

An impressive, fixed-pitch helicopter

By Greg Gimlick | maelectrics@gimlick.com

As seen in the December 2023 issue of Model Aviation.

I REALLY ENJOY my smaller helicopters, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t always been a fan of fixed-pitch helicopters. I’ve found their limitations in anything but calm or indoor conditions a bit frustrating. I have to say, however, that this one impresses me. Its sleek appearance and design mimics that of high-speed helicopters and it just looks great.

Construction

The 150 FX RTF comes out of the box ready to fly, so there’s nothing for you to do other than charge the battery and read the manual.

The 150 FX arrives in a foam-fitted box that serves as a case for the helicopter. The transmitter is stored on the back side.

The 150 FX arrives in a foam-fitted box that serves as a case for the helicopter. The transmitter is stored on the back side.

I did not disassemble this machine because it’s clearly a challenging process. I decided to hold off on that until it’s necessary for repair. A quick trip through YouTube will show some videos of it being disassembled, and I recommend checking out John Salt’s video to see how it comes apart. John is someone whom I know and trust, and he does a great job of describing how the helicopter comes apart. I didn’t want to cut decals to access screws until I needed to.

The components are all nicely enclosed within the main body frame, which is made of aluminum and reinforced plastic. This protects things quite well that might otherwise be damaged in a crash. The parts are tiny, so care is needed when taking it apart for repair. Be sure to work over a surface where tiny screws won’t roll off and become lost.

The entire RTF package as it comes.

The entire RTF package as it comes.

This heli’s sleek looks required a few interesting design decisions that worked out really well. The main rotor drive is actually a two-stage design. The motor sits forward of the main shaft and drives a small gear with its pinion. That gear is attached to a belt drive that drives the main rotor system. It’s remarkably quiet.

The swashplate is enclosed within the main frame, so it’s protected in the event of a mishap. This adds to the sleek appearance of the controls at the top of the fuselage. The blade grips are beefy, little grips for a helicopter of this size, and they hold a pair of symmetrical rotor blades. You might be accustomed to seeing asymmetrical blades on fixed-pitch helicopters, so this is a bit of a surprise. The benefit is the unexpected smooth and agile performance.

The author ordered a couple of extra batteries, although one came with it.

The author ordered a couple of extra batteries, although one came with it.

The battery compartment is unique because it doesn’t require the canopy to be removed to access the battery. The hatch is on the bottom and held in place with a small thumbscrew that is easy to use. Simply unscrew the latch and the battery tray rotates down on a hinge at the rear. Velcro holds the battery in place, and a fixed plug on the back of the tray matches up with the battery plug. It has a clean and simple design.

The innovative drive train allows the heli to have a narrow fuselage.

The innovative drive train allows the heli to have a narrow fuselage.

At a GlanceAt a Glance

SpecificationsSpecifications

Model type: Electric RTF mini fixed-pitch flybarless

Skill level: Beginner to advanced

Main rotor diameter: 13 inches (322mm)

Main rotor blade length: 5.91 inches (150mm)

Tail rotor diameter: 2.2 inches (55mm)

Size: 150

Length: 12.2 inches (310mm)

Height: 3.5 inches (88mm)

Weight: 4.3 ounces (123 grams, ready to fly)

Power system: Brushed main-rotor motor and brushed tail-rotor motor

ESCs: Blade 150 FX flight controller

Flight battery: E-flite 7.4-volt, 320 mAh 2S 15C LiPo

Flight duration: 5 to 7 minutes (depending on type of flying)

Price: $179.99 (RTF)

Radio: Blade 150 FX FHSS transmitter; Blade BLH4409 linear servos; Blade BLH4401 flight controller

PlusesPluses

  • Fully assembled.
  • Ready to fly right out of the box.
  • The box easily doubles as a travel case for the helicopter and transmitter.
  • Great looks and excellent finish.
  • Crash kit parts included.
  • Innovative battery hatch/compartment.
  • Less than 249-gram limit.

MinusesMinuses

  • Not compatible with Spektrum radios.
  • The battery plug can be a bit difficult to get big fingers into.

Manufacturer/DistributorManufacturer/Distributor

Blade Helicopters

www.bladehelis.com

Trivia

As a retired full-scale helicopter pilot, I’ve struggled getting used to rotor systems on my models that "turn the wrong way." In the real world, the full-scale helicopters that I flew all rotated counterclockwise, but almost every model that I’ve ever flown has rotated clockwise. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the 150 FX and saw that it turned the "right" way, meaning it rotated counterclockwise with the tail rotor on the left side of the fuselage. What does this mean to you? Not a thing—it’s just different from most model helicopters.

Flying

I got a little impatient and ended up test-hopping the 150 FX in my garage. I don’t recommend this, but I was hoping it would be as solid as some of the other Blade machines that I own, and I was right. When the day for outside flying arrived, it was a clear 88° day in North Carolina with 5 to 7 mph breezes.

The 150 FX comes bound to the included transmitter, but in case there is some issue there, the manual describes the binding process. Mine was fine out of the box. Be sure to find a nice, level spot for initializing the helicopter.

You might be confused by the switch on the top of the helicopter, thinking it’s an on/off switch. If this is the case, you didn’t read the manual. It is actually a calibration switch. When first setting out to fly, the switch should be in the red position after turning on the transmitter and arming the heli. Move it to the green position and wait for the control unit to go through its calibration process, which signals that it’s ready with a solid LED on the helicopter.

The transmitter is Mode 2, and the top left switch is for high/low rates. The switch on the top right is the throttle cut. It’s nice that Blade used the standard orientation for these because some imports do not. The manual recommends starting off with low rates, so I did. Ensure that the throttle is all the way down and all trims are centered. After you’re set, flip the throttle kill switch to green and the main rotor will spool up at a low speed.

Flight photos of the 150 FX. Nelson Couch, Col. USAF (Ret.), flew for the photoshoot.

Flight photos of the 150 FX. Nelson Couch, Col. USAF (Ret.), flew for the photoshoot.

Advance the throttle until the machine lifts off and stabilizes at a hover to get the feel of the responsiveness. I was surprised at how responsive it is compared with other fixed-pitch machines that I’ve flown. Mine felt good with only a slight drift because of the mild breeze. The transition to forward flight was uneventful, and I soon flipped it to high rates. For a beginner, the low rates are fine and are where you need to get comfortable before trying high rates. The pirouette rate wasn’t significantly faster in high rates, but it did feel "sportier." Full-power climbs showed that the tail held well, and I was pretty happy with its power—but it’s no rocket ship.

Flying circuits with the 150 FX is fun, and it’s certainly fast enough to challenge a beginner if they let it get ahead of their reactions. I was quite surprised at how fast this little machine goes because the vertical climb was somewhat anemic. It will scoot, so beginners beware! The good news is that, at this weight and while flying over grass, it’s pretty crashworthy. In fact, it even took a good hit to the side of a storage shed and received no damage at all.

With its six-axis gyro, it stabilizes well in a hover, allowing you to get your wits about you should you become a bit rattled. It reminded me of the full-scale Cobra with its narrow fuselage. You’ll see that, as you fly toward yourself, it can be a challenge to see depending on the background.

Conclusion

I really like this little heli. The paint job on the fuselage is classy, and its visibility in flight is excellent. The shipping box doubles nicely as a transport case that I can toss in the camper storage compartment so that there is fun on the road. The transmitter is smaller than I’m used to with my Spektrum iX14. I’d love to bind the 150 FX to that, but the protocol is incompatible. That said, the included transmitter works just fine and makes it an "all-in-one" package for travel.

The design is forward-thinking and its execution is beyond successful. I think anyone who is considering a fixed-pitch helicopter would do well to seriously consider this one.

SOURCES:

John Salt’s YouTube video

youtu.be/WwA4jbWU_DA

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