Okay, let’s rewind a little. It’s Christmas day, and I finally get my hands on the gift from my parents – the Blade CX3 radio controlled helicopter! Just looking at the controller, it’s clear straight away that this is a much more complex model than the Apache or the Chinook.
This is a proper, digital 2.4GHz five-channel system, and the throttle lever isn’t spring-loaded – meaning you can set a throttle level and release the lever without the aircraft falling out of the sky.
First thing’s first, though… before I do anything else, I need to get the training gear installed and charge the battery. After a bit of a struggle trying to fit long poles in tight holes and fiddling with orange balls (stop sniggering), the training gear is on. The battery is charged while we eat Christmas dinner. A couple of hours later, and we’re ready for the maiden flight.
This is going to take a bit of getting used to, as the controls are a little different to the other two models. On those, the left stick is thrust only, while the right stick controls forward and backward motion, as well as rotating the aircraft left and right. With the Blade CX3, that’s not the case. This is five-channel, and capable of flying left and right – so the left stick controls thrust and left/right rotation, while the right stick controls forward/backward and left/right flight. It doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but it takes some concentration to adjust. It’s like you’ve just got used to patting your head and rubbing your stomach, and now you have to pat your stomach and rub your head.
I run through the pre-flight checks as detailed in the manual (yes, seriously – this is a far more complex piece of kit), then spin up the rotors and perform a few hops to get a feel for the controls and responsiveness. So far, so good – so I try and get it into a low-level hover. Almost, but not quite… there’s small amount of drift, but nothing major, and I think that may be caused by the training gear being slightly off-centre.
Things are going okay until the cat appears from nowhere, and looks like he’s about to launch himself at the chopper. In a bit of a panic, I forget about the control differences, and in trying to turn it away from the cat, I manage to fly it sideways into furniture. The tip of a rotor catches a handle, and a small chunk of the blade flies off! Argh!
Fortunately, the part that’s broken off is small, and doesn’t seem to affect flight at all, so I can continue. I keep going a little longer until the battery dies, and then it’s straight on to the web to order some replacement blades. Fortunately, they’re not expensive… I’ve a feeling I might go through a few of them, at least until the snow clears and I can practice outside!
Have a look at the images below. I’ll get some video uploaded when I’m a bit more proficient at flying it!